erhaps, But Traveling Near the Speed of Light May Be Hazardous to Your Health. The Theory of Relativity states that it’s impossible to move through spacetime faster than the speed of light – and many, many things have been observed which confirm this fact. Almost all of them, in fact. So the “simple” solution (for a sufficiently radical definition of “simple”) is to move the spacetime instead. Then you’re not breaking the lightspeed limit, you’re just picking up a piece of reality and throwing it faster than anything can ever move. Which may already have happened. Some models suggest that the universe’s early rapid inflationary period may have included such superluminal speeds, so scientist Mark Millis says “Why can’t we do the same?” And despite how modern physics is almost entirely composed of reasons why we can’t do exactly that, it’s still a great question. “If it could do it for the Big Bang, why not space drives?” ponders Mark. Mainly because our drives don’t conjure realities out of their exhaust ports, but we will be the first to say that incredible breakthroughs always sound insane before they actually happen.
We are totally behind Mr Millis and his attempts to evade reality’s restrictions; we’d just prefer people sounded more sensible when they discussed it. Any discussion of Millis’s admirable aims tends to degenerate into “wooboowubwub DARK ENERGY! wubwub” or “If collapsed stars can bend spacetime, couldn’t future engines?” Sure, as long as the universe agrees that reducing decades of cosmological math into an analogy is a valid method of design.
We’re all in favor of realizing there may be some incredible breakthrough (in fact, that’s kind of our entire job), but waving words you got off the cover of New Scientist around is not the route to credibility. Will we ever get off the Earth? We hope so – but if people here would smarten up a bit, we wouldn’t actually have to. However, should we ever develop a workable warp-drive ship, don’t jump to wire your deposit.
A major roadblock to warp speed travel was just presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society by Dr. William Edelstein from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Edelstein claims that near-light speed space travel may actually be impossible due to the detrimental effect that randomly floating hydrogen atoms would have on the spacecraft and astronauts inside. Even if we were able to accelerate a spaceship to near-light speed, Edelstein claims that hydrogen atoms, or as he calls them “unavoidable space mines,” would penetrate the hull of the ship and deliver a radiation dose that not even water bears could withstand. According to the NewScientist, in order to travel the distance to the center of our galaxy, a spaceship would have to be moving at 99.999998 percent of the speed of light. Protons moving that fast (everything being relative, of course) would have an energy of 7 teraelectron volts, right about what the Large Hadron Collider can generate. At this speed, Edelstein calculates that a 10 centimeter thick aluminum shield would reduce that energy by less than one percent, meaning that anyone inside will turn into a death-rayed power bar of subatomic particles.