Anorak | How Many People Do You Need To Colonize The Next Star System – 150 or 40,000?

How Many People Do You Need To Colonize The Next Star System – 150 or 40,000?

by | 7th, April 2014

colonise star system



THIS is an interesting little calculation that’s been made about how many people you would need on your spaceship if you were to set off and try to colonise the next star system over. Well, OK, it’s interesting to me as someone who imbibed so much SF and Fantasy stuff when in my long ago youth at least. And the answer is a very much larger number of people than you might think.

Here’s what the problem is :

Entire generations of people would be born, live, and die before the ship reached its destination. This brings up the question of how many people you need to send on a hypothetical interstellar mission to sustain sufficient genetic diversity. And a new study sets the bar much higher than Moore’s 150 people.

According to Portland State University anthropologist Cameron Smith, any such starship would have to carry a minimum of 10,000 people to secure the success of the endeavor. And a starting population of 40,000 would be even better, in case a large percentage of the population died during during the journey.

To get that low number you simply calculate how many people you need to have alive at the end of the trip, assume they’ll have lots of kids and then they manage to get on with things. However, humans don’t really work that way. Over centuries such a small group would become horribly inbred. OK, you can take account of that by making sure of your breeding plans before everyone goes off. But

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Posted: 7th, April 2014 | In: Money, News, Technology Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink