Let’s say you go to space. Everyone wants to, at one point or another, if they’ve ever looked up at the stars of the night sky on a clear, dark eve. One of those nights where you can just see everything around you, encapsulated in the awe and wonder of the whole universe before your eyes. Sometimes, distance is terrifying. Other times, it just draws you in even more.
So yes, let’s say you’re one of those people. You want to go to space. Now what? You get in your little rocket ship and go there? Not that simple. However – again – since this is a thought experiment, let’s say we have the technology. What would these technologies look like?
I once wrote the beginning of a book based on the idea of going to the nearest inhabitable exoplanet to Earth, after we ruined our atmosphere via means of pollution and waste. Global warming took over and rendered our planet virtually inhabitable. We couldn’t save it, so three interstellar spacecraft (colony ships) were loaded up with the remainder of the human population.
Now, this is the future, so I’m going to assume we have means to generate thrust with electricity alone, or fuel can be produced with electricity. This means that energy must be produced, generated, saved, and conserved by all means necessary. But let me ask you this. On a spaceship in interstellar space, would you be close enough to another star to recharge the ship’s batteries via solar panels on your long journeys, or would you have to rely on another source of energy in the cosmos?
The obvious answer is (and I’m pulling the hypothetical here), your onboard batteries would likely run out earlier than the arrival at the next star in your journey. Besides, you’d want to get to your destination at the soonest possible time, due to the likelihood of survival decreasing and the possibility of supplies running low increasing over time. So what is the solution for this dilemma? Quite simple, really.
Humans, you ask? What for? We don’t produce electricity! Well, that’s actually where you’re wrong. But nice try – D for effort. We produce our own electricity (and heat, if I’m not mistaken) via the production, breakdown, and various uses of ATP (a biological molecule) in the cell. I probably have a small thing or two wrong, but look that up yourself. I’m no biologist, but if you put your left and right hands on the input and output ends of an electrometer, it reads a current, albeit small. However, this isn’t all we’re interested in. It might be a supplement to the electrical charge on a spaceship, but this isn’t all. In fact, we’re more interested in body heat (and converting it to energy), the different chemicals the body excretes (such as ammonia through urine, which is a carbon-free fuel), and the body’s physical mechanisms that can be harvested for energy.
Some of these physical motions involve capturing the kinetic force of the air molecules as you breathe to power motors, moving your body in normal activities, and the process of capturing vibrations in the sound of speech (or anything, really). This is the future, after all, and a lot of things that are hypothetical (or in pioneer fields) would likely be possible. For example, there’s literally a device that can generate electric charge from a rat’s beating heart using piezoelectric technology:
And this was published in 2010. Think of how far technology has come today – it’s 2021, for goodness sakes. It’s the future. VR headsets are on the rise, hyper-realistic 3D graphics are here (and admittedly, I don’t think they can get much better at this point), and I don’t think we’ll have much problem providing supplemental power to a spaceship with the human body using the technology we’ll have in the future when we decide to travel to other planets – especially if the spaceship has a significant population.
What other ways could we harvest electricity during interstellar travel? I want to hear your ideas in the comments below.
Much love. Roxie out.