Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Faster than Light Travel...sci-fi stuffs...

I am not physicist nor am I a mathematician. Truth to tell, I don't even know what the associative and distributive properties of addition are and I still use my fingers to count when multiplying by odd numbers.

Numbers and symbols give me vertigo.

Anyway, I'm a sci-fi fan and one of sci-fi's staple is faster than light travel (or FTL). FTL makes everything else possible from space travel to time travel to interdimensional travel or crossing multiverses. The science and the math is beyond me and the rest of 99.99% of humanity.

Light travels at 1080 kilometers per hour. This figure may seem fast here on earth but in space travel this is slow, very slow compared to the infinity of outer space. That is why speed in outer space is measured in light years,i.e. the number of kilometers light travels in a year which is 9,50,000,000,000 km. The nearest star is around 4 light years away so it will take 4 years for a ship to travel get there at the speed of light. There also relativistic phenomenons with light speed travel like time slowing down in the ship etc. 

Of course the speed of light limits us and if time comes that we achieve near-speed-of-light-travel, the constant still imprisons us. To get around this problem, inter-galactic ships use warp engines. Warp engines are powerful engines that can bend time and space around them.They are so powerful that they consume energy equivalent to a star like our sun.

Why the warp engine? 

There is one law in physics that most physicist believe cannot be broken the constant: speed of light. (the c in E=Mc2). It is impossible to travel beyond the speed of light. This is stated in Einstein's works and is accepted as true because of the math and the science and Einstein...anyway..(This is beyond me). 

Another thing is that in breaking or disproving the constancy of the speed of light, our ( at least the physicists') understanding of reality and cosmology would change and all the theories and maths from which "c" is present would become worthless. It's like removing the foundation of Eiffel Tower, it cannot be expected that tower will stand. Anyway, if the constancy and inviolability of the speed of light is violated, things will have to be worked out from scratch. That's why an experiment that showed that the speed of light was violated by a neutrino created a lot of stir and was later proved to be wrong.

How does a warp engine of a spaceship work?

According to a physicist, since it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, what can be done is to bend time and space. So what happens is that technically, the ship did not move, but time and space did.

Still not making sense, okay, imagine this:

I have a super fast car that could travel at 1000 kilometers per hour so that I could go to Baguio in a minute or so. But unfortunately there's a law that says I cannot travel beyond 80 kilometer per hour. To beat the law, I created an engine so powerful that it could bend the roads and mountains etc. literally folding the surface of the planet earth. It was so powerful that when I turned the car engine on, Baguio was pulled under the wheel and I'm in Baguio in a jiffy. Of course to those outside the car noticed nothing unusual.. It's just a car suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Technically, I did not travel beyond the speed limit but I did bend earth.

Imagine the power and the energy requirement of this engine. Imagine bending time-space...

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