Friday, May 17, 2013

Interstellar Migration Ship Population

The numbers are looking good right now -- let's see in a few days :) I started with looking at Minimum Viable Populations for ancient hominins--critical for the Atlas of Human Prehistory that I'm working on (Fall '14!)--then converted some of that information for Project Hyperion, an international collaboration of scientists working on giving humanity the option to voyage to exoplanets by the end of this century. The population genetics translate, though there are some significant differences to be wrestled with. Abstract for this year's NASA / DARPA / 100YSS paper in Houston!

"In this study I model the population genetics of five human generations, each of 30 years, for a total of 150 years, according to the broad goals of Icarus Interstellar's Project Hyperion, scaled to reach an exoplanet within 150 years at just over .03 light speed. I adjust population figures to account for various likelihoods of large-scale disaster, which we should expec...t on a voyage of such a duration. I conclude with an estimate of Nc, or total population of the first generation of interstellar migrants (of a certain age- and sex-structure), to be well capable of sustaining founder-, drift- and inbreeding-effect to range from 18,000 to 60,000, depending on the safety factor employed. Roughly averaging these, we should plan for the first 5-generation interstellar starship population to be of 40,000 people, roughly the size of 10-20 oceangoing cruise ships. Such a population could sustain founder-, drift-, and inbreeding-effects and significant disaster. Based on modern, genomics-informed population genetics, this figure helps to determine many engineering issues, including starship architecture, mass and propulsion."

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