Home > pleasantries, science > Faster than light – Impossible, even if Sci-Fi says so

Faster than light – Impossible, even if Sci-Fi says so

Once upon a time, I was watching some movies, and I realized how many sci-fi movies rely on the concept of faster than light travel. This was many years ago (I was hardly into high school then). I wrote, at that time, a small article about why faster than light travel is impossible. While there are many better and interesting (and more accurate) explanations that I could now provide (some are presented on my other site, Super Physics), I feel that the old simple explanation still stands. So I just thought I should post it, for lack of anything better to do this Saturday…

“There was once a lady named Conway,
Who traveled faster than light,
She departed one day, in a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.”

Those of us who watch Star Trek, or are interested in Sci-Fi are already familiar with the concept of starships traveling faster then the speed of light, which is approximately 300,000,000 m/s, the fastest speed currently known to man kind. Although the concept is amazing, one must wonder which energy source would power such a ship. To answer the question certain facts must be considered:

  • All the energy in the universe is not sufficient to propel even an electron to the speed of light.
  • Objects get heavier as they approach the speed of light, eventually they become infinitely dense.

The solution offered by many theoretical physicists is simple, just beyond the light barrier consists a field of super-cooled space-time energy called the ‘Speed Force”. This energy is unlimited, and if harnessed properly it is enough to propel matter beyond the speed of light. As far as density problems are concerned, new theories suggest that when objects are traveling at ½ or ¾ of the speed of the speed of light, they enter a space-time distortion field, and to some extend they no longer exist in our universe. Properties such as friction do not exist and laws and equations of motion no longer apply. Other wise an electron accelerated to .999999999999999999 times the speed of light would hit you with the impact of a truck! Another interesting concept is the slowing down of clocks, at half the speed of light clocks would slow down by 15%, at the speed of light clocks would completely stop. Even on the space shuttles we have today, clocks tick less than one ten-millionth of a percent slower than their counterparts on Earth. Sadly the solution is to build clocks in an atmosphere that is traveling at the needed speed.

Another mind boggling concept is that pocket universes can be created if one collides with the centre of the universe at the speed of light, the collision creates bubbles of super-cooled space-time that evolve into universes. Some say that at the point of formation, God can be found. Religious scholars regard this as heresy and physicists as concepts impossible to prove with experiments or equations.

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