Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mars Colonization: A Very Non-technical Perspective

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Mars Colonization
A Very Non-technical Perspective
When you think of Mars, do you also think of war and Romans? Mars was the Roman god of war, but this red planet is much more interesting than mythology. But depending on the picture, Mars sometimes looks like the one above or rusty red colors. This is because NASA uses special lenses which all pick up specific types of colors and lights depending on the spectrum. All of those nebulae and stars you look at come in varieties of colors depending on which lenses they use to detect specific gases and light wavelengths. In the end though, Mars is a dull reddish and white color with sandy, brownish dirt and a very inhospitable climate, ranging from
125°F (colder than Antarctica) in the winters to a steaming hot 23°F in the summers, just cool enough to freeze your pecker off
when you go pee. Nevertheless, Mars has sparked so much controversy as to whether it will someday be habitable, if it has water (somewhere) or has had water, and if it is capable of maintaining life if terraformed in some way. This is primarily because it is literally the only planet we've ever found that is:
1) An "actual" planet similar to Earth
2) Is not ten ba-gillion times larger than Earth
3) Is not ten ba-gillion light years away
Forgive the sarcasm, but I think it's a little funny that people look so far and come up with rather impossible spaceship designs to hunt for planets to colonize when we can literally look up in the sky with our naked eye and see one (Mars!) Some fairly famous astronomers have actually come up with some very wild atomic and antimatter-based starships ranging in size from 60,000lbs rockets to odd looking ships the same volume of Earth itself, not to mention some pretty insane nuclear fuel calculations like 2H + 2H → 3He + 1n0 + 4 MeV, or 2H + 3H4He + 1n0 + 17.8 MeV. For those of you who know what the last letters MeV are, congrats, because most people have no inkling. Basically, ships like these are fueled in the same way as small stars are, that is, by exploding... behind your skinny buttocks... with propulsive forces exceeding 40+ megatons every second (the largest bomb on Earth was 50 megatons and sure as hell did not explode for a few years like these ships would).
Instead, I think it's a tad more realistic to tell you about Mars, since it:
1) Has soil that can sustain plants with little need for terraforming (depends on plant)
2) Has an atmosphere! (almost forgot about this one), although the atmosphere is a tad thin
3) Is at or within ten ba-gillion light years from Earth
4) Is at or under ten ba-gillion Earth masses (gravity)
5) Does not turn your body to cinders when you stand outside to enjoy the breeze, although going pee outside is not recommended in winter
The biggest problems with planet hunting is that that they are usually hundreds and thousands of light years away (quadrillions and quintillions of miles, that is), often times have no atmosphere at all, in which case the thin Martian atmosphere is better than nothing, and the planets are several Earth masses (meaning, you'd weight hundreds or thousands of pounds on these planets, i.e.- get mushed), and the kicker is that no life (except some extremophilic life) could EVER be supported on them. And since the birth of astronomy we've all been looking toward the heavens for life, gods, and signs and wonders when after all this time it's been sitting in front of us. Don't get me wrong, I hate being optimistic, and this is not a Mars-colonization article, but rather if we are to live somewhere else then we ought to work with what's right in front of us, right? Duh, of course the answer is yes, not that flying at near light speed isn't tantalizing though. Or we could all just go now and arrive at...... let's see at our current maximum speed of 35,000 mph... hmmm... Proxima Centauri....4.243 ± 0.002 ly...carry the one...divided by the square hypotenuse of... it would take about 81,353.6 years to our nearest star P. Centauri! Who wants to road trip??
Anyway, Mars has a lot of work in store if we ever try something with it. It's 1/10th the size of Earth and could never take the environmental pounding we've given Earth by any means. Before we make Mars into a new planet to overpopulate with ugly humans, it needs plenty of oxygen and about triple its current gravity and atmospheric pressure to help prevent humans from barfing up their intestines. Gravity seems to hold water down on the surface too so that's a store discount if I ever saw one-- keep your intestines and have a glass of water at the same time.... nice! We don't want our drinking water to float away or something. In fact, Mars really just needs a full makeover with life in general and maybe an atmosphere's worth of air or so...and some sort of planetary-mass-gravity-enhancer (PMGE) to increase its gravitational field an extra 60% so none of the animals barf up their guts either... or maybe we can just mush together a few centillion neutrons into a superdense core and stick it in the center of the planet... that'll definitely increase the gravity (I think that'd be the all-natural approach to gravity on Mars...neutrons are natural, right? Just make sure there's no trans fat or MSG)...
Think of it! Then all we'd have to do is ship an ocean or two over to it (I'd recommend USPS media mail, it's cheaper), then breed a few trillion animals, a few nonillion insects, maybe a quadrillion fish, some bacteria, a couple hundred billion plants, then just till and sow a few thouand miles of soil for the plantings... and VOILA! Two centuries later and a ba-gillion inflated U.S. dollars spent on a 450ft x 75ft x 45ft Space-Arc and a couple million trained horti-bio-astro-chemists to breed the animals/plants and we gots us a new tiny Earth! We could just abduct several million of the U.S.'s unemployed college grads! And if we need to abduct more then there's a few million more too! We'll need lots of nets...
Now what clown said we needed to devise interstellar spaceships, hmm? He obviously did not realize Mars' potential! (I think the funny thing is, Mars would be many factors of magnitude easier to terraform and colonize than it would be to build an actual star ship...dang...)

Is It Possible to Colonize Other Planets? : A List of Prerequisites for Exoplanetary Habitation

My other blogs are:
Supporting Life On Another Planet
Prerequisites of Life on Earth
and Other Planets

So...you've thought of it before, and you'll think about it again sometime soon, so I've chosen to write about what you were wondering: Is alien life even possible? Is there any intelligent life out there? Well, I suppose from certain perspectives, the fact that we exist is proof enough. Yet I'd argue with that, for given the marvelous demands of a planet to be livable are positively miraculous that we are here. Also worth noting is simply how people can expect intelligent life on planets to exist when astronomers and scientists have yet to discover any on earth? Har-har. Seriously though, you're all stooopid. That's why you're reading this article. And so, without further adieu, I've compiled a list of requirements for a planet to be able to host life here for you without any eye watering goodbyes to your fantasies of naked green women who want to know what love is. Also, at the end are my opinions since facts and belief are supposed to be separated. That is, after all, how we are taught in college. All tucked away in a neat little end of the page that can be easily ignored since you're not going to read them anyway unless you agree with me. But then again, what do I believe? Skip to the end and find out! And in case any of you just want a simple yes or no, is life on other planets possible, then no. It's an absolute resounding no. Furthermore, no. And then again, no. With terraforming? No. Still a resounding and absolute no. They couldn't even terraform in Star Trek. No.
The criteria below are listed in order of tremendous importance to basic needs, yet all are required. This is not a comprehensive list by any means. As far as I've seen, no such list exists because it'd be endless, spanning an endless sea of pages that no one would even want to read, and that few people would even understand due to the marvelous complexity of the demands for supporting even basic life, let alone humanoid life like humans. As much as astronomers and regular people hate to admit the obviously infinitesimal chances for life to sporadically form on a planet without God, they probably should, but hopefully this list will help them realize that thinking it isn't so doesn't make it so!-
I highly doubt you'll remain interested long enough to read through this whole article, so I'd like for you to simply jump to the very bottom of the page when your eyes begin to bleed for a more verbose explanation of this list, rather than bland facts you'll never remember. Keep in mind that we have yet to find a single planet that matches even 3 (THREE) of all of the below criteria, let alone all of them.
A Habitable Planet Requires:
(again, this is absolutely not a comprehensive list-- this is barely even a fraction of a fraction of what is required!!)
    • Star must have a stable habitable zone-- that is, a barrier around the star which allows a planet with sufficient atmospheric pressure within this barrier to form water (and thus, life). A planet must be close enough to benefit from this barrier but far enough away to be at a safe distance (around 93,000,000 miles average distance).
    • Proper "aging" orbit: Because many stars both move at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour (planets do not!) and because their luminosity increases as they age, these two prime factors must be taken into consideration as well when determining the eligibility of a star in a system to support life on a nearby planet and achieving a proper, lasting orbit. Assuming the planet is both capable of supporting water and any life at all (more below), it must have a proper orbit around its sun and properly drift away from the sun as it ages or else the habitable zone will become unstable. This eventual instability would mean that either all life on the planet would be destroyed or that life would be prevented from forming to begin with.
    • The sun itself must be a specific class of star and to be a stable sun range between early F, G (our Sun), to a mid-K type star. The star cannot be highly variable nor magnetically unstable. Others stars are either too dim and too cool (red dwarfs), or put out too much radiation and kinetic energies (such as a blue giant), which would also destroy life.
    • This "sun" must be a main-sequence sun that will remain stable for billions of years for evolution to take place (evolution means we all life originated from rocks...literally, read about it in full before you endorse it!)
    • Low stellar variation
    • High metallicity (star have a high metal content allows for better fusion, longer life, balanced and stable luminosity, and perhaps even a more stable habitable zone
This really puts things into perpective of the size of just our solar system!
Look at how small Earth is!!
    • Axial tilt of 23-24 degrees is necessary. This lets the weather be relatively stable and thus becomes a candidate for life. Notice the degree of tilt is only a 1 degree difference? This is because even a couple degrees of more or less tilt would dramatically change the weather patterns on the planet!
    • Composition of the planet surface must be similar, if not virtually identical, to earth.
    • Atmosphere must have a proper ratio of carbon, hydrogen, oxides (like oxygen gas and ozone), carbon oxides, and nitrogen gas, neon, krypton, and many more.
    • A molten iron planetary core; our planet would be harmed by the suns radioactive rays without an iron core to protect us.
    • According to evolutionary theory, the planet must be stable for at least 100 million years for life to form - most planets would not follow this. On the same token, evolutionary theory admits that while it might take 100,000,000 years for evolution to culminate into "us," it may have taken well over +4,000,000,000 years just for evolution to even begin. The planet then, might require as much as four billion years of stability to allow for human life to safely develop and flourish before planetary death.
    • This new "earth" must be the same size as earth. Planets too small and too large cannot support atmospheres, have far too strong of a gravitational pull, cannot support water formation or life, and often do not have iron cores.
    • A moon that is about 1/3 the size of the planet must be present and at the proper distance from the planet and the sun in order to regulate the planet's orbit around its sun.
    • This planet and its moon must both orbit the sun in a way that it can have a good path in order to properly ellipse around the sun.
    • Neither the moon nor the planet itself should be moving too fast or all life would die or fail to form. Furthermore, the moon and planet must maintain orbit around the star itself which may be moving in excesses of 3,000,000 mph!!! (Earth moves at  about 66,600 mph and the Sun moves at 150,000+ mph
    • Enough flat land for effective agriculture and various forms of plant and animal life, water, as well as separate areas for large bodies of water for sea life, continental drift, and tectonic activity.
    • Have steady but limited volcanic activity and volcanic hot zones, so the planet would not be a molten wasteland, and also so the core of the planet would remain stable (we've all heard of Krakatoa!)
    • Must have enough mass to create a gravitational field around the planet to "hold stuff down." Wouldn't wanna float away, now would ya?
    • That same gravitational field must be around 1g. Gravity that is even a little higher or lower than 1g would both kill many forms of basic and complex life and also prevent water from forming on the planet (hence, no life). 1g gravity is an absolute must.
    • The gravity must also surround the entire planet, as to hold onto an atmosphere over eons, but not so much that the atmosphere is too thick and therefore the surface pressure is too high
    • A molten iron core is necessary to create a global magnetic field to protect the planet from cosmic radiation, deadly cosmic rays and particles, and deadly atomic astronomical forces (atoms in space are highly volatile and far more dangerous than on earth).
    • gravity is around 1g-- gravity that is even a little higher or lower than this both kills many forms of basic and complex life and prevents water from forming (which means no life!)
    • More on the stable habitable zone: Earth is at the right distance from the Sun to have liquid water form on its surface and for the atmosphere to be at a reasonable temperature for life to occur. It also doesn't stray too far from this "optimal" distance from the sun, making the temperature stable. Unfortunately, any planetary to support carbon based life forms must be similar, if not identical. to earth.
Welcome home! Don't you recognize your own neighborhood? Galactic neighborhood, that is. Without the Milky Way, we'd all drift to destruction out in endless space.
    • No large stellar bodies may be present within or near the habitable zone, which means nothing too large can be near the planet or its moon at any point along its orbit around the sun. No planet, water, or life could form due to the planetary scale disruptions in gravitational forces from any large stellar object(s), even if the disruptions were relatively brief. This means that if Jupiter or Venus were our satellite instead of the moon, no life on earth would exist.
    • A solar system is required to counter balance the moon and "earth," or else the planets would sling shot into or away from the sun. Our solar system and all of its planets (and their satellites) seem to be required to preserve the "earth"
    • This new solar system hosting life on the new "earth" must belong to a galaxy and also to have proper distance from galactic core (like the milky way) to prevent the system itself from colliding with other systems or from drifting through endless space and into inevitable destructive forces (black holes, "super-stars" (like blue supergiants, magnetars, neutron stars, etc...) All stellar objects within the Milky Way are hanging on to each other by gravitational forces, preventing planets, stars, and systems from drifting away into space. (Of course, this is happening anyway as the universe expands and distances between stellar objects exponentially increase faster than the speed of light...read my article on Relativity and Universal Expansion for more information on this!)
Don't you want to know some of the facts about  our universe before you commit yourself to a scientific philosophy that denies you the God who is ***bigger*** than the universe? We have yet to find a single planet that matches even 3 (THREE) of all of the above criteria, let alone all of them, and this list is terribly far from being a comprehensive list also. We have yet to even understand how life is capable of being supported on earth, although we know a lot already, the list of requirements to sustain life on earth is truly endless. I encourage you all to believe whatever you want, but anyone who frequents my blogs has the chance to read from a new, unbiased perspective. Yes, I am unbiased. This is because although I give my Christian God a big thumbs up, I know that fudging the truth or bombarding people with controversial opinions is an ineffective way to communcate something as complicated as the human soul, creation, and God. None of these are easy subjects, but I hope you find my perspective refreshing. So I list the facts, and then I express how I feel at the end. Seems better that way. What would my reward in heaven be for lying anyway? (Yeah, nothing).
Astronomers tend to be atheist or agnostic (basically god is an uncaring blob who created earth in his boredom), and sadly, astronomers search for answers that satisfy their desire to deny Christ, and to promote a godless life. They live life in their heads and not their hearts, and have become calloused. When astronomers like Steven Hawking present the facts of our great universe, they do so in the context of evolution, the big bang, and either some form of atheism or various forms of agnosticism. They are hardly unbiased, since they cram these philosophies down everyone's throats so often that it's almost as if the philosophies themselves have become accepted simply because it's all anyone ever hears.
Lastly, if you're still resistant to the idea that life on earth is unique or that we're alone, please please please read my article called "Interplanetary and Interstellar Space Travel: Distances Between Exoplanets, Stars, and the Search for Alien Life", there's a huge chart showing the distances and unimaginable time it'd take to get to local stellar objects at various speeds (35,000 mph, 150,000 mph, 35,500,000 mph (5% light speed), light speed (~670,000,000 mph), and 999,999,999,999,999x 1c (~6.7×1023 mph...as a joke). If you ever thought that there was life on other planets, then you might want to damper your hopes of them ever visiting us or that we visit them. Just remember that science and faith do not conflict, it's the philosophies of this world that conflict with faith and even with science itself!
So here's another philosophy:

Uranus: King of the Ice Planets

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King of the Ice Planets
Uranus is one of the ice-planets, along with Neptune and Pluto and probably more are nearby that we haven't seen or discovered new things about. These planets primarily consist of methane, ammonia and water. Uranus' water is thought to be broken down into its hydrogen and oxygen parts with the methane and ammonia, creating a toxic ocean of mostly frozen chemicals. And although it's called an "icy" planet, its core is thought to be between 8,540.33°F - 12,140.33°F (5,000-7,000 kelvins). It's so cold because it has a low thermal flux (inner heat does not radiate out of the center), making the surface extremely cold, reaching lows of -224°F and the intensity of sunlight felt on the surface is only 1/400th that of Earth (no wonder it's so cold). What's even more awkward about this planet is in the picture to the left, depicting the polar ice caps on the planet's sides and the planet itself also spins north to south, rather than east to west as on Earth.
Another confusing quirk is the magnetic field, which does not originate from the planet's geometric center due to the planet's tilted axis (at 59°)...and although I don't like quoting Wikipedia, they explained it well, stating that "The magnetic dipole is shifted from the center of the planet towards the south rotational pole by as much as one third of the planetary radius. This unusual geometry results in a highly asymmetric magnetosphere," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranus#Magnetic_field. In other words the planet itself is much more tilted than your average planet, and due to this asymmetric geometry it also has an asymmetric magnetosphere. At the very least it makes sense, since the two correlate.
The water mass of Uranus alone is roughly 9.3-13.5 Earth-masses and the overall mass is around 14.5 Earth masses, where the remaining mass consists mostly of some rocky materials and other gases like helium and hydrogen. Of note, though, is that for a planet that is 14.5x more massive than Earth it is only around 99,787.21 miles in circumference around the equator (160,591.9 km), making it only about 4x the "size" of Earth even though it's mass might lead you to think it's far larger. This is probably because it is basically a frozen planet, where even its center is considered somewhat cool. For new readers of astronomy, when it comes to mass and size, just think of how many Earth's can fit inside the planet when astronomers say "masses," yet this is not the same thing as size, since Uranus is clearly many times more massive than Earth, yet it's overall size could not fit 14.5 Earth's inside of it- only 4, actually. This is because an object's mass in outer space also correlates to its density, causing something very large to be mushed even smaller, making size deceiving. This is what makes astronomy so much fun, because quirks like these really pull people out of what I call "Earth thinking," for what goes up does not always come down in astronomy. No-thing cannot be explained, however for in astronomy a person can always count on finding an adequate, sensible but often abstract answer, since Earth is very unique in the cosmos. For more on gravity or black holes, read my article on Black holes and Gravity.
What a pretty blue planet! But looks are deceiving, since nature is beautiful and deadly at the same time, as is Uranus. The surface temperature is cold enough to turn the air you exhale immediately into frozen vapors and any air you inhale to ice your lungs would instantly frostbite your alveoli. Yes, that is quite cold, but that's ignoring the fact that a person could never even inhale on the planet itself since the gravity would mush them into an icy puddle of guts instantly. Very cold indeed. Uranus is very interesting none-the-less, though, because it is almost entirely made of water that's deep-frozen, although it's not exactly the water you would find on Earth. It's tenuous atmosphere (if it could be called that) is so thin it can hardly be considered an atmosphere, yet a layer of gas is there, consisting primarily of helium, hydrogen, and methane, reaching temperatures of -371.47°F (49 K), the coldest recorded temperature of any planet in the solar system, even Neptune. There are virtually no clouds or any discernible atmospheric features that might indicate any such atmosphere, which may be due to its low thermal flux of the core, which prevents any sort of atmospheric weather conditions such as evaporation of water, rain, and clouds. However, even though the sunlight is barely even felt on the planet, winds on Uranus fluctuate between 90-360 mph, with highest recorded winds of 560 mph (900 kph). The fastest spinning tornado ever recorded on Earth reached 318 mph and was strong enough to shred anything in its path, and where the wind that ravaged the southern part of the United Kingdom in October 1987 was estimated to be less than 100 mph (160 km/h).
Keep up with Nasa.gov because there's so much more to learn!

A New, Nearby Earth? Gliese 581C

My other blogs are:
A New, Nearby Earth?
Gliese 581C
Gliese 581C- 5.6x Earth's mass means it cannot support intelligent life like ours here on Earth, only simple life like low-lying plants, mosses, perhaps bacteria. All this is assuming, however, we ever managed to get water on the planet and terraform! Sounds....ea...sy...

(Read caption on above) Here you are! Since the birth of astronomy centuries ago, here you go! This is the best planet we have discovered as of 2012 that could possibly support some life if we can dump a few oceans onto it, adjust its temperature ranges, and decrease its gravity substantially. How stooooopid, haha. People like to day dream though, and you can't blame them for imagination, and they sure have a lot!Yet it begs the question, "After centuries of science this the best we have so far?" So, ready to leave Earth for a few centuries of terraforming and building a new civilization of humans that you don't even like? If there were hot alien babes to teach the meaning of love to nearby then whoa, I'd be in that for sure! Well, you should still say no even to hot alien babes, because unless you want to die from the massive gravity of Gliese, then I suggest you relax and do some more reading. It would seem that these are some of the questions plaguing astronomers right this very moment...Is this a new super Earth that we could colonize some day when we have better technology? What scientists mean by statements like this is simply, 1) Is the planet as closely similar to Earth for colonization without terraforming? and, 2) Will the planet's gravity crush humans like road kill?
These are the two biggest concerns with planet searching by astronomers since most planets, believe it or not, are many, many times the mass of Earth. Some planets even seem almost perfect for Earthlings to colonize, but often have gravity that is 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or more times that of Earth! Ok, so before you dismiss what I said as depressing, think of mass like this: Earth's mass is what we call 1.0, so anything below that, say a planet 10% smaller than Earth is said to have a mass of 0.9 (100% - 10%) and another planet may have more, say, having twice the mass, which would be 2.0 (100% + 100%). Now do the math. If you weigh 100lbs on Earth, then on a planet with 2 Earth masses, you'd weigh 200lbs! Seems like a tough deal but hey it's doable, right? When scientists see a planet that is equivalent to 15 Earth's, they completely ignore it since a 145lbs person would weigh 2,175lbs, which is equivalent to walking outside and 4 male African lions all sit on your head and you walk around all day with them weighing your body down. Weights like these are so intense that you couldn't even walk outside without getting completely crushed to death. Not only that, but there are other planets like Earth that actually have 20-30x Earth's mass, where their gravity is so intense that you'd immediately be crushed to the ground with your guts exploding out of you and bones breaking into dust, your guts making a gargantuan puddle for many yards and all of your body's cells would burst and mush flat.
Similarly, for planets that are only double Earth's mass, all the weight on the planet effectively doubles and although very strong humans could potentially survive there, all plants would be crushed, animals would die, and water would be either very difficult to form or impossible to form from under that kind of gravity. So a planet with twice Earth's gravity simply could not support life just because of the water problems, let alone the mushing problems.
This can be a bit depressing because astronomers never find any planets that are remotely like Earth's mass except some uninhabitable moons, asteroids and planetoids that are far too small, basically existing as flying rocks. Not to mention that there are hundreds of criteria for a worthy planet, but these two criteria have proven impossible to find after centuries of studying space, this past 75 years revealing tremendous information on new planets, but nothing of real use. But what about Gliese 581C? Scientists were raving about this planet, plus it's not too far from us if humanity built a fusion pulse starship (is discussed in an article by me called "Project Daedalus"). This planet actually has 5.6 times the mass of Earth. So if you weighed 100lbs on Earth, on Gliese 581C you'd weigh 560lbs. And if you weighed 180lbs, well then you'd weigh 1008lbs!
Let's put it another way, if you were the strongest man on Earth and only weighed 50lbs you still could not survive on that planet. Your body's cells would stretch downward and burst from the gravity even though your muscles might be strong enough to hold you up. Your nose would bleed nonstop and your veins would snap like rubber bands under the downward forces of gravity. Your heart would not be able to pump your blood while standing! Honestly, you'd have an equal chance of breathing in outer space without a spacesuit than living on this planet.
People need to cool their heads in some water when they get excited about Earth-like planets because this is what we continually find. The more we study the universe the more we realize how terrible we are for ruining our own planet, and the more we are forced to face the sad fact that we cannot maintain our current lifestyles. The human way of life is so toxic to the planet, I say, what's the point in going to another planet? We're simply going to ruin that planet anyway. Is our current lifestyle truly this happy and awesome that we need to find another planet to ravage? Is a simpler life really that terrible? No, it is better, but you have to change what you live for in life. Simple people like simple lives because they have simple desires, like a wife and children, a good family to spend time with and some great home cooked meals. The only way the human species will survive this current technological lifestyle is if we all decide to become space travelers and attempt to build starships to colonize other worlds.
No one wants to space travel more than I, and I highly doubt there are many people who are as fascinated by computer technology as I am. Even I admit to myself that the only way we'd go to the stars is if we all banded together as a world to make it work...but human history clearly shows that all civilizations rise and fall, and that no civilization today is exempt from this pattern. Even Ozzy Osbourne sees this hopeless pattern in his song "Dreamer," and he did every drug under Sol.
Any historian will tell you that the history of the world is simply a history
of wars which mark the end of one civilization and the beginning of another....
It's what has been happening for 7,000 years, and it cannot change because we are
so deeply troubled. For all of you who hope for a better human future,
you should know that it is only in Christ that we can find peace and joy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Section 3: Matters in Relativity, Speed, Time & Space

Section 3:
Matters in Relativity, Speed, Time & Space
(If you hot-linked to this article, just click here)

New Theory Denies Time Dimension: Is Time the 4th Dimension or Not?


Is Time Travel Possible?...If So, Then Not Like in Science Fiction

My other blogs are:

Some stars and black holes bend space time so much that some scientists think that if space and time really are one 4-D container, then gravitational forces of this extreme magnitude probably bend time along with space. Yes, black holes bend space, and because space and time are one entity according to Einstein, then wouldn't time warp also? Hence, wormhole time travel.

Near speed of light velocities were equated to forward time travel by Einstein. In essence, what is time travel? In sci-fi it's when you "go" to the future, as if to say a person could walk through a door and appear in the future, or like a portal of sorts bridging time periods. We've all seen the corny sci-fi shows. This happens in pretty much every sci-fi show at least once, such as the Star Trek series (oh yeah, hot stuff comin' through). Einstein clearly did not think backwards time travel was possible but he did allude to if a person somehow did reach light speed (670,616,629.3843951 mph) that time would stop for them, and where if they surpassed light speed they would essentially begin traveling backward in time instead of continuing forward in time. Time dilation simply occurs when you go very fast. The faster you go the more pronounced it becomes. Keep reading!
This can't be eco-friendly!
Einstein- made it fairly clear that he didn't fully believe backwards time travel was possible, mostly because his theories of special and general relativity were pointing to the answer "no" unless there were some serious special conditions. Special, meaning he couldn't think of anything realistic. This is because when an object travels fast, its mass increases exponentially, sort of like a race car experiencing "drag" when traveling fast. In outer space, however, mega-velocities like millions of miles per hour are similar to drag experienced on Earth multiplied exponentially til infinity. This means the mass of a speeding object would become insurmountably heavy since it is a finite object with finite capabilities, and therefore cannot overcome the infinite.
This is because mass multiplies by itself (like numbers being squared over and over), where 10 becomes 100, and 100 becomes 1,000, and 1,000...and so forth. And in space this increase in mass due to speed when traveling light speed will become infinity (limitless) and the only theoretical way to break this infinite "drag" is to have an infinite fuel supply to overcome it for infinity. The idea behind this is that nothing finite can overcome something infinite (limited vs. limitless so to speak, you know who'll win that one). Limitlessness is relentless! A better explanation is located below.
4D Space: A 3d World with 1d Time- According to Einstein, all matter in the universe exists in 4 dimensions (4d) consisting of three physical dimensions and one dimension of time. You already know what 3d is, since we exist in 3d, with 2d representing flatness like an old video game. 3d is simply seeing an object all around since it has width, breadth and height (3d). Einstein thought that the combined speed at which a particle travels through these 3-dimensions is exactly the speed of light, which means that the faster you travel physically (3d), the slower you travel through time (4d). And then if you hit light speed like massless photons do, you will stop traveling through time completely.
Time Travel Explained- To illustrate the above paragraph, picture yourself standing still and watching a car on a race track. Now when the car circles the track and starts coming toward you, it seems like it's going faster as it approaches and then WHOOSH, it zips right by you. As it gets farther away again it seems to slow down until it circles back around and gets closer to you. This is a perception of speed, where an object's distance from the observer makes even high speeds seem slower due to larger distances needing to be traveled. A car traveling 30 mph on a highway is slow, but that same 30 mph on a narrow, crowded road would seem really fast since you have so many people and buildings whizzing by you in close proximity. Your eyes can't process all of the objects around you, which makes you seem like you're going faster than you really are.
This is an illusion of speed where objects near you appear to go past you faster since they are closer to you on that narrow road, just like that race car zipping by you as it gets closer, but as it gets farther it no longer seems to go as fast. This same effect happens with an approaching car that's very, very far away. The car coming toward you on the horizon seems like it's still in the distance as it approaches and slowly appears to gain speed as it gets closer to you, that is, until it gets close enough that you can gauge its actual speed with your eyes. We've all seen this effect.
Using the race car analogy: Now I want you to picture you and the race car together on the race track driving fast, each in your own race car. The illusion of speed is gone now since you both are keeping up with each other. Perceptions of speed are affected by the observer's speed (your speed) relative to the other race car next to you. If both the object (race car) and the observer (you) are matching speeds, then it's no different than standing still because the perception of speed is based on distances being traveled relative to other objects. This is how it would be in outer space since there are virtually no other objects out there to allow you to gauge your movements. In fact, space is so vast and empty that space travel is thought to be impossible simply because astronauts and sensors would not be able to even know if the ship is moving. In space, a ship could move at light speed, warp 10 or be completely stopped, however the astronauts would not even know unless they could see other objects in space to refer to and gauge their own movement relative to other celestial bodies. And no, sensors that can detect objects light years away are nonsense. This means you could fly for centuries and not even realize that you aren't even moving!!!
Speed, Time and Distance: So what's the point of speed? Simply to get "somewhere" faster? Right! But what is somewhere? "Somewhere" is the object of reference, like the race car or your job or the mall. Speed is meaningless without a destination or some object to reach or surpass. For example, a person could never know s/he is traveling fast if there was no point of reference. When you break the speed laws to get to work on time, the point is to get "somewhere" faster and minimize the "length of time" between points A and B. Speed is the measure of distance traveled (length) over a period of "TIME." This is the 4th dimension Einstein spoke about, and although it's not 100% physical, it can still affect us and be measured (with a clock or speedometer). A clock shows the distance (length) between hours and events in a day, just as miles per hour measure the distances (length) traveled at a specific rate (speed). Both the distance and speed affect the outcome of elapsed time, where going slower or faster changes the total "time" being measured (minutes, hours, miles, etc.). However, the non-tangible affects of time will not be discussed here.
Flow of Time and Matching Its Speed: Time's flow is represented by the 4th dimension, where time continually flows past us quickly like that race car, but if we also go fast (get our own race car) then the speed at which time passes us isn't as large (distance/length)... time no longer whizzes by us like that race car. This is possible because time is experienced by individuals, not by everyone in the same way, which is commonly written as "time is not a constant." This term probably doesn't mean much to the average reader, however. Now when we travel at light speed we are essentially "keeping up with time" like that race car, and time no longer zips by us, but rather it stays next to us matching our speed and is no longer in front of us. Hence, time "stops" affecting us since it is next to us, making the measurement of time and speed irrelevant.
Time Stops: This means that time itself stops for us since Einstein said that time and the maximum speed of the universe are one (4th dimension). Nothing can travel faster than light and have mass (be made of stuff, or in other words be alive or exist physically). Time itself travels at the speed of light because it has no physical properties, which is why the maximum speed of the universe is light speed, since that's the top-speed at which something non-physical can travel. So how can anything physical surpass that speed? Well, Einstein said no"thing" physical could. Just as light (photons) cannot outrun itself, neither can time!
Faster Than Light Travel?- Using the illustrations above, going faster than light means essentially outrunning time or escaping your own body (physical), since at light speed you and time are matching speeds like the two race cars driving side-by-side. Surpassing light speed would mean outrunning everything in the universe, including non-physical entities like time and space and light. This is obviously not possible when you think of it like this. Furthermore, this is just the theoretical aspect of light speed travel. I assure you that the mathematical concepts not being explained in this article make light speed travel and faster than light travel seem even more impossible.
Technical Explanations: As a particle approaches light speed, its mass increases exponentially, and therefore it becomes harder to accelerate. An object with no mass cannot surpass speeds that massless objects are limited to (speed of light). How much harder would it be to accelerate an object with mass to that speed? It's clearly impossible, because we, as physical entities, cannot build ships and travel in them at light speed since they, being gigantic physical objects, have great mass. The idea of starships traveling as massless objects do is just silly. In Star Trek, they overcame this "mass" problem by creating a warped field of energy that causes all mass within not only to be massless, but to have negative mass. Thus, in this warp(ed) field, objects with mass can not only match light speed but also overcome it, far surpassing it. This, however, is either complete nonsense or is so far beyond our current technological abilities that astronomers simply do not entertain these ideas. But wouldn't it freakin' sweet!!!
Final Thoughts: Any force that is so powerful as to stop time or overcome any universal law must surely be beyond our wildest imaginations. Gravity is the only force that can overcome time, space, and speed. Space bends under great gravitational forces, time stops, and speed is nullified. Light cannot escape black holes, and the acceleration into a black hole due to its gravity far surpasses the maximum allowed speed of the universe. The idea of black holes containing other universes or quantum filaments and wormholes are all sprung from this force. Gravity might be the key to light speed travel, and perhaps even faster than light travel. Where force destroys, such as bombs, and speed is limited, gravity is totally opposed to these forces yet completely overwhelms them on cosmic scales. For more on my ideas of gravity, read my article "Black holes: Escape Velocities..."
Thanks for reading and I hope I explained everything well enough!

Time Dilation and Time Travel For the Average Reader

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First I'll start with Time Dilation in a step-by-step example that you most likely will not understand, and then explain it, followed by some famous ideas on time traveling:
In the middle of outer space, two people are flying...
One person is at low speed, let's say Charles Bronson is going 1,000 mph,
and Clint Eastwood is orbiting Charles at 99% light speed (cuz he's the freakin' man).
<1,000 mph       
664,000,000 mph>
According to Einstein (and proven experiments), Time Dilation will occur between them due to their large differences in speed. It is because Clint Eastwood is going very fast while Charles Bronson is going so slow that a large time differential between them will occur.
  • From Charles Bronson's perspective, Clint Eastwood is practically unmoving due to his high speed (slo-mo). (This effect would diminish if Charles were to increase his speed).
  • Inversely and simultaneously from Clint Eastwood's perspective, Charles is moving so fast that he can watch Charles live his entire life in a mere fraction of the time (fast-mo). From this perspective, for every full day that goes by for Clint Eastwood, Clint actually sees Charles Bronson experience a little over 7 days! (7.09 to be more exact).
NOTE: The inverse is true from Charles Bronson's perspective, so in 7 of *his* days, Clint Eastwood will only look like he experienced 1 actual day, hence, from this point of view Clint doesn't look like he's moving much at all (assuming that such a slow rate of movement can even be seen with the naked eye).
 So here's the thing to remember: Whoever is going fast sees slower objects moving fast even though they aren't, and whoever is going slow sees faster objects moving slow, even though they aren't either.
 The Confusing Part About Time Dilation: Both perspectives are seeing things correctly, relatively ... explanation below. (Einstein's Relativity simply means *from another person's perspective*)
(this might be a little complicated)
Time is not a constant in the universe. Speed can affect the rate of time for the moving object. Every single object in the entire universe that is not being affected by gravitational forces is experiencing its own rate of time down to the attosecond. The reason why you and I experience time at the same rate is because we don't move fast and because of the earth's gravity (try not to think to hard on this, unless you want to look at the formulae, you might not ever understand most of what makes time tick har har). In essence, it's better to say that the people on the earth are experiencing the earth's rate of time. This is because speed and gravity affect the flow of time and the curvature of space. Even light bends, and it is thought that time moves at the speed of light, and time can even be slowed or sped up by massive gravitational forces.
This is my face to the partial
Time Dilation formula below
A brief example: Humans experience a rate of time according to how the earth is experiencing time as it zips through space at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The earth is large enough (mass and gravity) that it bends space a little, causing it to curve some. In essence, we experience days and hours and minutes according to the earth. This does not mean that if a minute on earth passes that several minutes or a fraction of a minute might be experienced elsewhere in the universe. Time always travels at the speed of light (of time), however our **experience** and **perception** of it can speed up and slow down. 1 minute is always 1 minute, yet when Clint Eastwood looks at the slow moving Charles Bronson, 1 minute might be hours of movement for Charles from Clint's eyes, and vice versa.
So, what is time then? For a supreme lack of words to describe time, I'll simply say that time is a (semi)physical non-tangible entity in the universe that travels at the speed of light. We have the power to measure it, since it is a measurement of duration and length of time for crossing distances. From what we understand, time is actually real, to a certain degree. It is not merely an invention used to know where the Sun and Moon are, nor is it merely a tool we use to understand distances, rate, and duration. Time is sort of like an invisible current of water moving across every inch of the universe that travels at the speed of light that acts upon all objects within the universe. This means it **exhibits** tangible properties but it's not something you're gonna catch in a butterfly net anytime soon.
Re-emphasizing the examples: When an object (Clint Eastwood) travels almost at the speed of light, it takes time *longer* to catch up to Clint. Think of time as moving 100 mph and Clint is in a car going 99 mph...naturally it'd take longer to catch up to him than if he were going 3 mph. This delay in catching up to Clint is one way of visualizing how time is struggling to "affect" him or act upon him. And this delay is seen by us as slow-motion (our limited perspective). This means that **from Charles Bronson's slower perspective** he sees Clint going extremely slow (virtually standing still) since the time differential (the lag or time delay) is so large between them, and this is aptly called Time Dilation. The word dilation simply means to expand or enlarge, sort of like your eyes do after an eye exam, and for Clint, time is stretched so thin that it is barely even able to affect him. This raises two questions in your head, no doubt:
  1. Why does time need/seem to affect us like this? (Or to reword it, Does this "affection" indicate that this is the nature of time?)
  2. Does this mean that if we went exactly the speed of light, would time stop? (i.e.- time could not catch Clint)
The answers (or theories) are:
  1. We don't know why time acts on us like this. Oddly enough, humans seem to have an innate desire to keep track of time via memories of the past and a desire to control/plan for the future. To say that time is just a measurement completely denies how all animals on earth seem to have a brain capable of keeping track of the past, which seems to make time much more than what it seems. To say that the human brain tends to organize thoughts and memories in a hierarchy of "time" (past to present to possible future) would be a gross understatement. However, it seems that all we can really do to understand time is to study its physical aspects when they become apparent to us. When we see an object moving fast, we can measure the time differential between it, us and other objects. The problem is, time seems to be sorta physical and sorta not. We can physically observe it when it manifests itself (time dilation), but other than that we can't observe it. Since science is currently limited to studying the physical world, this means that time can only be studied when it acts on us physically (time dilation), and is invisible to us otherwise. This makes it virtually impossible to understand time, although there are plenty of theories that always seem lack evidence, even if they are very interesting.
  2. According to Einstein, going the speed of light is impossible for anything with even 1 mass, since at 1c//light speed (670,616,629.3843951 mph), even that tiny bit of mass gets multiplied infinitely. So that 1 becomes, which becomes 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, and so on until the drag and fuel/energy drain on a ship or an object becomes so great it reaches its own maximum speed relative to its mass. In essence, light can go light speed because it has (essentially) no mass. What this boils down to is that Einstein said going light speed is impossible, however he did mention that somehow if you did, you would travel forward in time. Remember Clint and his "time delay" because of his speed? If he went light speed that means time would NOT be able to catch up to him, and essentially he'd live forever. experiencing 7.1 days for every 1 earth day until the end of the universe if he felt like it. But because time cannot catch him, he cannot age and cannot die. In essence, he'd still live 80 or 90 years, however, only when he slowed down. This means if he traveled at light speed for 100 of "his" years, then 259,327.5 earth years would pass by for his 100 years. While it might not be the most awesome way to time travel, you have to admit that for nearly 260,000 years to go by in 100 years for him, he could see the end of the universe in no time flat.
Time Travel: A third theory arises for our friend Clint-- What if he went faster than the speed of light? According to Einstein (who barely even talked about such fantastic nonsense), Clint would travel backward in time if he managed to go faster than light speed. Few respectable astronomers speak on this, since as a race we can't even space travel much at all, something of this incredible complexity is rarely even entertained and is purely conjectural, as there is no evidence (how can anyone understand time travel when they can't even understand time?)

If only Ultimecia had used "time dilation" instead
of "time compression," then she could have moved
super fast relative to Squall and watched his entire
life dwindle away in seconds. Then destroy
the universe! Yippee skippee!
That last sentence implies that when both people move at the same speed you could crudely (and incorrectly) say that they enter the same time phase, or the same time continuum or something like that. This is entirely wrong, but when I say it like this some people can kind of see what is attempting to be explained. Because time acts on us and affects our perceptions, how can time affect us as it normally would if we are moving so fast that it can't really catch up? Obviously there would be a delay. Our GPS satellites in outer space that let you use interactive maps in your car in real time actually experience time dilation and have to predict the time differential. This is why it seems like no GPS is ever able to know how fast your car is traveling and can never quite get the exact location of your destination (I swear my TOM TOM is regularly off by 1/4 mile and always thinks I'm traveling 5 mph slower than what I really am).
If you want to know more about what time travel might be like according to current theories, read my other article Time Travel?...Yes, But Not Like in Science Fiction. That about wraps up time dilation. I hope this article helps you to understand this remarkably difficult concept.

Relativity For Dummies and Discussing Universal Expansion

What is Relativity? Have you ever heard the word and not even really understood what it meant? It's actually extremely simple but probably the most poorly explained concept in astronomy. Watch this couple minute video to understand!
(The video above keeps disappearing. I'll keep trying to update this article!)
Through relativity, astronomers have come to believe that the universe is not only expanding, but that the expansion is accelerating exponentially. The universe is so massive, however, and since we cannot see even a tiny portion of it, many people disagree. Below is a little of both sides of the argument, and while both make sense and are probably equally correct, there are obviously so many facts that we have not gathered to be able to accurately say just what exactly is happening.
The picture shows just how tiny Earth is, and how we humans actually beleived at one point that we were the center of the universe. Such wonderful arrogance!
On the top left is Earth, to its right is our Solar System, and again to the right are several solar systems and star clusters near us, and to the right some more show the entire Milky Way, which contains billions of stars all millions and millions of miles apart from each other for 100,000 light years. The Local Galactic Groups show several entire galaxies much like our Milky Way, where we live, which when zoomed out shows us that our 100,000 light year galaxy is a just a speck. The Virgo Supercluster is a colossal collection of star systems and over a hundred entire galaxies spaced over 110 million light years. Yes, this means that at light speed (671 million mph) it'd take 110 million years to leave the Virgo Supercluster, where the Milky Way is one of over 100 speck sized galaxies. The Local Superclusters picture shows hundreds of Virgo Supercluster sized clusters. Yes, so it'd take billions of years to traverse that distance at light speed. And finally, the Observable Universe is the coyly named collection of 46 billion light years' worth of superclusters, galaxies, star systems like our own, and so on.
The name is "Observable Universe" is very deceiving because for a couple complex reasons. First is that the universe itself is widely agreed to be only 13.7 billion years old. This means that light at the beginning of the universe from the Big Bang would have only just reached us recently, in 2009 in fact, which looks like a black impenetrable border. Everything beyond this border is blackness to us. For all we know, this is the edge of the universe, and there could very well be nothing beyond it.
Age of the Universe was estimated to be 13.7 billion years because of light's maximum speed being the maximum speed of the universe, thought by some to make the radius of the observable universe amount to only 13.7 billion light-years (light speed×age=size), which is only a single speculated age of the universe based on light. Logical deductions like this makes sense only in a flat, static Minkowski space-time based universe of special relativity. The real space-time of the universe, however, is clearly curved in a way that corresponds to the rate of expansion of the universe (based on Hubble's law.) Therefore, the multiplication of the age of the universe by the speed of light should not actually be correct if the universe is indeed curved and not flat, (Ned Wright, "Why the Light Travel Time Distance should not be used in Press Releases"). The observable universe is a sphere with a 46 billion light year radius derived from where the expansion of space has co-moved all stellar objects outward (away from each other and our Milky Way galaxy.)
Irony: It is ironic, however, that the farthest "observed" stellar phenomenon UDFj-39546284 was 13 billion light years away, however if Hubble's law holds true, then the actual distance is 30 billion light years distance now even though the light took 13 billion years to reach us. The expansion of the universe has already caused this phenomenon to be pulled far away from where we actually observe it to be. This is why astronomy stands in deep scrutiny, how can anyone prove either of these perspectives? The line between fact, belief, and theory are muddled. Our current technology is limited and therefore demands a level of intuition. Furthermore, our own spatial perceptions deny us the ability to fully see what is happening to the light during its long voyage to Earth, which is what Hubble's law and Minkowski's space-time attempt to sort out.
Located below shows some of my own disbelief while at the same time demonstrates my own level of comprehension, which right now is down the middle. I can see both sides of the coin, but the facts at hand clearly show that we are still missing so many of the puzzle pieces.
469 ly is the approximate total spheroidal distance of observable universe (our neighborhood)
939 ly speculative maximum size of universe
-And yet astronomers also say-
4×1069J estimated total mass-energy of the observable universe, (e=mc2 or Energy=mass×lightspeed2)
8×1069J total universal energy output
These numbers are far too small, a single supernova has up to 2×1044J of energy output and a neutron star puts out 5.23×1046J each second. Our Sun, which is only a little larger and hotter than the average star, has an energy output of 3.8×1026J each second, and yet there are an estimated 5009 galaxies which could each contain sextillions of stars. The total output of the universe might not be based on total energy output of all objects within, but shouldn't it be? Hypothetically speaking, if a container was filled with electricity, would not that container also have an energy output equal to or greater than its very contents?
Size of the Universe and Its Expansion: Inferring the overall size of the universe is impossible since the universe is still expanding, which simply means that the distant objects we observe have already moved considerable distances from where we observe them to be. They have actually traveled vast distances further away from us due to the vast amounts of time their light takes to reach us, which is multiplied exponentially by the speed that they move away from us as well. Furthermore, since the universe itself is not bound by maximum speed laws (light speed), the expansion of the universe itself can exceed light speed, perhaps even far exceeding it, without ever violating the laws of relativity.
This fact coupled with stellar objects already moving at gargantuan speeds (millions of miles per hour) means that the objects themselves are being pulled along with the edge of the universe as it expands, and the expansion is accelerating exponentially. From an astronomer's perspective, this makes their velocities seem greater than light speed, which is not so. These stellar objects travel distances far exceeding the distances traveled by light in year, but without ever actually matching or exceeding light speed. This is the problem astronomers encounter when measuring the speeds of moving objects in a moving universe. Where speed is the rate of distance traveled, if that distance is forever increasing then no accurate speed can be measured based on the movement of objects relative to such unspecified reference points (e.g.: to measure the distance between one object and another object at an unspecified distance=silly!). Astronomers would need to calculate the total speed the edge of the universe is moving away from us (reference) in order to measure the rate of expansion, hence, to calculate the actual size of the universe. This stretching of the overall distance of the universe around us should cause the speed of moving objects to seems less, but in this case the stellar objects are being indirectly pulled with the speed of the expanding universe, which has no discernible maximum speed. Therefore, their increasing distances from us actually make them appear to go faster than the speed of light, rather than slower. They are exceeding light speed since they are traveling larger distances at a greater rate, yet they aren't going that fast at all since the overall distance is being cut down due to these distances being shortened during this "pull" of the expanding universe.

Speed of Light: Maximum Speed and the Passage of Eons

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The speed of light (c) in a vacuum was described by Albert Einstein as being the maximum speed of any "thing" in the universe-- thing being any form of matter, object with mass, or energy, where this top speed is set because it is the exact maximum speed massless particles can travel at, such as light particles. In a nutshell, this means that unless the traveling object has no mass, then achieving even light speed is thought not to be possible. This was described quite succinctly: light speed is known as infinite velocity, and to reach light speed (1c) an object cannot have mass while in motion, as mass is multiplied exponentially infinitely as it accelerates, almost like a forever-increasing drag on a race car. The accelerating object must have infinite fuel supplies to overcome this infinite mass-drag, so to speak. This means that at light speed all mass at all gets multiplied by itself infinitely, where 1 mass becomes 2, and 2 becomes 4, and 4-6, 6-12. 12-24, and etc... as speed increases. This effect on the object in motion takes a heavy toll on probes and ships of all sizes, since even the Voyager probes, being very small, still weigh 1,592 lbs.! They are both a far cry away from being massless, and most starship designs demand much larger ships to carry their fuel, where Project Daedalus is projected to be about 50,000 metric tons (110.2 million lbs.), and the Bussard Ramjet is said to need to be the volume of Earth (38.76×1020 ft3 ). Seeing how it does not take long before even an object with a mass of 1 becomes an immovable object even in weightless space, producing what could be analogous to drag (though this does not fit well, it at least makes this abstraction easier to understand), it is obvious that for a starship weighing hundreds of millions of pounds to being as large as the Earth is in volume, that going even a fraction of the speed of light is obviously a daunting task, assuming it is even possible.
With this in mind also, light speed itself (1c) becomes totally impossible, but this should not be surprising since Einstein's theories pretty much ended any discussions of any method of either light speed travel and faster than light speed travel by any "thing" nearly a century ago. And although some possible discoveries at the CERN laboratories in Switzerland may prove that neutrinos are capable of breaking this speed barrier slightly even in a vacuum, in my article "Interplanetary Travel," even going thousands of times the speed of light (like in Star Trek), space travel is still not a cozy way to travel, taking, weeks, months, years, decades and centuries just to travel to neighboring planets and star systems.
No discoveries in the past 100 years have yet to prove any realistic improvement in the chances of realistic space flight, but rather the opposite, as Einstein stated that objects with large amounts of mass basically stood no chance of even coming close to light speed, which would make space travel almost not worth the undertaking. For a spaceship such as Project Daedalus (see my article "Project Daedalus: Possibility or Hubris?" located on the right >>>), it'd have a weight of 54,000 tonnes (119 million lbs.), and this was the most realistic and smallest spacecraft yet theorized. Theoretically it could reach 12% light speed (80,473,995.516 mph; 81 million) after 2 years of nonstop acceleration, but how could it possibly accelerate for 2 years continuously? There's simply too many obstacles that would have to be avoided quickly, and I can only imagine what would happen if the pilots suddenly jerked the wheel of a ten million tonne vessel at 81 million miles per hour. However, it is fairly aunanimously agreed that even Daedalus' 81 million mph is very slow speed-- in fact, by comparison it'd be far slower than watching a snail crawl across the entire Earth. Yet because of Einstein even this snail-slow speed may not be possible to attain, as cosmic rays and atoms have the collision force of thermonuclear bombs. To make this slow slow speed safely attainable at all the ship itself would either need a powerful shield (most likely being an enormous fusion powered electromagnet to deionize incoming atoms and rays) or have a hull that can withstand the explosive forces of Earth's mightiest bombs for centuries on end. Not years either, but at least centuries, for even at 81 million mph it'd still take several human lifetimes to travel to even some of the nearest planets outside of our Solar System, and many human generations- even epochs, to reach the nearest stars. Now, without a shield the ship itself would become nothing more than a light show because it seems more likely that even a powerful hull would wear down very quickly or jostle things loose on the ship. After all, when I think of bombs I usually think of Hiroshima.
For the past several decades, Einstein's theories on special and general relativity hampered any hopes of any practical space travel outside of our solar system, let alone exoplanetary, interstellar, or intergalactic space travel. The nearest exoplanets to Earth would take decades and centuries to reach at 12% light speed. The thing is though, we can see them just fine from here with our telescopes... we know that they're not worth visiting. Most of them are hotter than open flames or colder than Antarctica or have the gravity of 10 Earth's. In fact, the saddest part is, we can see stellar objects very clearly even at hundreds of light years away with our fancy telescopes but have yet to find a single planet worth colonizing. Mars still seems like the best bet, as it is only a shor trip days away at our current tiny 35,000 mph, but most astronomers and astrophysicists prefer their corny fantasies of space travel someday. Now because of these mega-distances, even at light speed the planets and stars well inside of our own galaxy would take thousands times thousands of years just to reach if we made a bee-line for them. As if any space pilot is going to set his course for destination "A" and never stop nor ever change course ever at all for thousands of years times thousands of years. It's silly.
The Milky Way arch emerging from the Cerro Paranal, in Chile, on the left, and sinking into the Antofagasta's night lights. The bright object in the center, above the Milky Way is Jupiter!

For example, our galaxy is called the Milky Way galaxy and is merely one of hundreds of billions of galaxies, most of which are 20,000 to 300,000 light years in diameter (each taking eons to traverse). Now I've had people ask me how long a light year is, which is simply this: A year for light to travel anywhere in a vacuum, such as outer space. This speed just happens to have a finite measurement of 670,616,629.3843951 mph (671 million mph), compared to Daedalus' 81 million mph. As another example: With our galaxy being 120,000 light years in diameter, it would obviously take any object at light speed 120,000 years to traverse from end to end (although the shape may enable you to leave it much faster, shaving off a few thousand decades), which is a mind boggling total of 705,435,044,782,032,000 miles (7.054×1017) or 705 quadrillion miles, which is the same distance as traveling from our Earth to the Sun 7,585,323,063 times or 7.5 billion times. At Project Daedalus' speed of basically 81 million mph it'd take 8,766,000,001 years to traverse our galaxy from end to end, and another 10,000,000,000 years to reach our next nearest galaxy.
Milky Way
So let me put this into an even sharper perspective in case the nail has not been hammered into dust: Human life could just about evolve from single celled organisms into fully developed humans with civilizations simply by the time Daedalus exited our own galaxy at 12% light speed, for you silly silly evolution lovers. And for you Trekkies, in the fantasy series Star Trek: Next Generation, Picard admitted in one episode that at about 1,700x the speed of light (warp 9.2 or 1,104,170,400,000 mph or 1.1 trillion mph) they had only charted about 28% of the Milky Way after 200 years with an entire fleet of ships. So even in fantasies where the light speed barrier is easily circumvented by a factor of over 1000c, the odds are still totally against humanity to ever even leave the Milky Way Galaxy. Going 1700c is still not a reliable means for spacefaring!! Honestly, we'd have to create some sort of teleportation system like in Stargate. Face it, you're gonna be late for your interview on Gliese 581C by about a ba-gillion years.
And because I love nailing down the head, here's one final example: To reach one of our nearest neighboring galaxies, the Andromeda Galaxy, we'd have to travel 2,500,000 light years. Now that's about 14,696,563,432,959,000,000 miles away and would take a beam of massless light 2 1/2 million years to reach at the top speed of the universe, no less. Let's say we can go 1700c. That's 1,104,170,400,000 mph. That journey would still take 13,310,050.2 hours of travel time, which is 1,518.4 years. Do you see now? This is why humanity will never be more than ants. Even at 1,700 times the speed of light we could not even make it to the next closest galaxy within a millennium, it'd still take years of nonstop travel and stupid speeds that obviously cannot happen.
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If you loved this uplifting article on hopeless pursuits in astronomy then you'd love my article called INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL that you can click it on top of the right hand side of your screen>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>