Other worlds are far away. If humanity is to become an interplanetary or interstellar species, how will humans make it so far? Some proposals include bypassing human frailty altogether – sending robots or becoming machines ourselves. Other ideas include creating ark-like starships that act as artificial worlds, housing societies of humans on multigenerational journeys. And then there is the idea of hibernation. We spoke to Martin Braddock, a drug discovery and development professional. Martin also regularly writes about the hurdles of deep space travel as a member of Sherwood Observatory in Nottinghamshire, England. He is furthermore the founder of Science4U, through which he promotes astronomical sciences within the United Kingdom and seeks to inspire scientists of all ages.
How did you become
interested in the concept of hibernation in space as a way to enable deep space
I have been interested in sleep regulation for many years (I only need four to five hours per night). I have led drug discovery projects in this area considering regulation of the Per clock genes and other targets. The longevity of human life is one limitation we may be able to do something about, while in parallel consider faster propulsion mechanisms. See some of my relevant publications here, here, here, here, and here.
Do you think it would be more effective to pursue deep space travel by using manned or unmanned spacecraft?
A good argument can be made for both. I would favor unmanned to start, because finding a habitable “alternate world” by unmanned means could then act as the focus for manned exploration. I discuss this in my publications.
How do you tie such discussions to current decision-making; why is thinking about such long-term scenarios a useful enterprise?
We are still early in our thinking and need a stimulus to think long-term. The potential of existential risk to Earth is now on the horizons of awareness for most people in the general public. This awareness will only increase over the years. Again, I discuss this in several of my publications.