back to article A handy guide to growing your own spaceship

If you were one of the SETI at home crowd - three million PC owners worldwide, all trying to scan radio signals from space to find alien transmissions - you may have missed the news that gives us (yes, I was one!) hope of really reaching the stars. I'm thinking of building a living starship. The news came from a report on The …


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  1. Stephan Samuel


    First, your statement that no one should comment until they've read the source is one of the dumbest things anyone's ever written. If you've summarized the article and done a good job, we should know enough to comment. If you've not simply summarized the article, I'm commenting on the opinion that you've added to it. Your disclaimer makes me suspect the latter.

    Second, articles like this do nothing more than make people want to do things like building space ships. A hundred years before we walked on the moon, it was said to be impossible; some still disbelieve. A hundred years before we flew, it was said to be impossible; many are still fearful. A hundred years before electricity was "invented," it was said impossible that such a thing could be conceived of; almost everyone has converted. A hundred years before the discovery of the wheel, people thought dragging things from one place to another was pretty neat; everyone now uses wheels.

    By the simple study of history, one sees that naysayers are continually proven wrong by inventors and scientists. You are clearly too short-sighted and closed-minded to be the sort of visionary that makes it happen instead of sitting around and writing piffle about how this could never happen.

    When the invention or discovery comes, it'll be something that you (of all people) didn't even think we could do. It'll also be something that you probably didn't imagine could apply to space travel. Not only will we figure out how to do this, but in a couple of millenia, it'll seem commonplace.

    Leave the thinking to the folks at NASA. Not only are they better at it, but they're also doing something constructive along the way.

  2. AH


    Guy suggested you read the linked article before commenting, because if you don't, you'll sound like an idiot to those who have. Congratulations on your achievment.

  3. Brian Miller

    Truly Short Sighted

    The magic wand is on its way!!

    I believe that matter to photon to matter conversions will be the mode of transport when we feel it is necessary to travel between stars. Good work is already being done on this by very clever quantum physicists this very moment.

    I would instead focus on interplanetary travel and the ability to harvest resources from within our solar system. Harvesting resources from near earth objects or the asteroid fields between mars and jupiter would create an economic motivation to advance space living.

  4. Chris Morrison


    Here here!

    Finally somebody else who agrees with me that Seti at home is the most stupid program in the world. All that energy being wasted on something without anybody ever thinking through the chances of ever finding any radio signals. These guys are quite literally space cadets!


  5. Richard Johnson

    suspension bridges are not the only fruit

    "It doesn't matter what materials you build out of - nothing we have ever used for making houses, pyramids, bridges, tunnels, or ships can be expected to last the sort of time-scales a starship will have to endure"

    What are you talking about? The pyramids have lasted for thousands of years. There are many stone circles and standing stones scattered around the British Isles that were erected thousands of years ago. There are many churches in England that date back almost a thousand years. If we are to do anything with our nuclear waste we'll have to build a repository that'll last for some 100,000 years.

    And a starship won't have to cope with wind and rain, hot summers and freezing winters.

    I should think that, if you're building a starship, identifying materials that will last would be one of the simpler parts of the build.

  6. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Stealthy Steganography ..... Hiding in Full Sight.

    "only to discover a civilisation of alien monsters had apparently conquered Earth."

    Hmmm. For all that your Intelligence Services tell you, what is to say that there has not already been an advanced landing party, now InterNetworking within the MetaBodyPolitic to colonise/groom the planet for harvesting? And being Advanced and Artificial, why would they chose any form other than to be like a Human .... for then they could do as they please for you.... to show you their ways in developing their Plans to Beta Communicate with Others out there in the Great Beyond. It is QuITe perposterous to Think that one is alone whenever there are already so many other Intelligently Designing the Creation of Alternate Reality Games for Real.

    Here is one of them working in the background of white noise in the Underground genre ...... although you can expect them to question your sanity should you question them closely about such confidential matters. IT is all just a part of the AIMaster Driver Program?

    ur SurReality Concept is very Convenient.

  7. Keller Drozdick

    Niven Corrections & a question

    - Niven referred to Ringworld as a suspension bridge in the context of a mathematical model. In actual construction, it had to invent a material that would be categorized as "magic wand"

    - Niven also utilized biological spacecraft (sort of): Stage Trees. And until the more distant future his universe relied on the multiyear travel that you had dismissed

    - How come the engineered, god like spaceship you are describing doesn't fall under the "magic wand" category?


  8. Conrad Muller

    Learn from life, build from available materials

    I have a science fiction story on my Web site that posits space ships in which the basic hull is just a skeleton for hundreds of thousands of self reproducing, non-organic beings. Inside the hull, organic beings in an organic environment, on the outside of the hull, inorganic beings in an interplanetary or interstellar environment.

    There are a few magic wands in the story, especially propulsion, but most of the technology is only a few steps above current practice.


  9. the Jim bloke

    Magic wand

    If thats all we need, lets go now.

    The toyshops are full of the damn things.

  10. Arclight

    Not quite

    "The pyramids have lasted for thousands of years."

    But none of are in anything like the same state as they started out in. The pyramids where originally smooth sided, but are largely weathered down to the bare rock, and some of the large stones at Stonehenge have fallen over. Dumping some rocks on the ground, and a few thousand years later having some very weathered stone rocks, isn't really comparable to building a hi-tech and fragile space ship.

    They might not have summer or winter to contend with, but they will have to endure massively fluctuating radiation levels, even flying from earth to the edge of our solar system would have a huge temperature difference. They will also have survive the millions of fast moving small pieces debris that are floating aroun in space.

    Then again we already have a spaceship with radiation shields, and a defence system for coping with meteors. All we need to do is strap some big enough engines on to Russia (Why do you think God put all that gas and oil there?) and we have the SS Earth to take us on a voyage through the stars.

  11. Zarniwoop

    The Zerg already mastered this

    We just need to construct a Psi Emitter as beacon, and when they subsequently invade just pwn their forces and steal their overlords. Free organic interstellar vehicles.


  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Try and get it right!

    ""The pyramids have lasted for thousands of years."

    But none of are in anything like the same state as they started out in. The pyramids where originally smooth sided, but are largely weathered down to the bare rock..."

    Nope. Not weathered. The Pyramids would still be standing in much the same as their original condition if it hadn't been for the locals who have been 'harvesting' decent building stone from them for the past 2k years. Same goes for a lot of the other artifacts in Egypt - you can often find parts of statues built into walls!

    By the way, Blish wrote two books about the 'Star Dwellers' (energy beings who were born in novae) and also preceeded you with a story about relativistic journeys taking you back in time. I thought your 'grow-your-own' space ship piece was going to be based on the A Clarke story about the Russian development of Moon Plants, which propagated by firing their seeds at near local escape velocity. Such a plant in the asteroid belt could easily produce space-faring seeds.

  13. Tom Chiverton Silver badge


    SETI@Home isn't pointless - advanced civilisations maybe trying to deliberately contact us even though they're planatery technology has gone quiet.

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