Three Stories To Give You A Headache
The question here is enough to give you minor headaches and make you reach for the strong coffee. It’s intuitive and designed I think expressly for the eggheads.
An observer passing by the astronaut (or, alternatively, whom the astronaut is passing; the two are identical) would observe something strange: the cogs would seem bent out of shape. Circles become ovals, compressed in the direction of motion:
When the gear rotates, it would appear to that observer as if it were made out of plastic. Individual teeth on the gears would appear to be shorter when in the horizontal position and longer in the vertical position. The gear would work perfectly well; all of the interfaces would mesh exactly as they do. It’s just that your intuition about how circles rotate would be thrown off.
Because the entire law of physics is modified in the same way, the mechanism still works perfectly. The paths that particles follow are distorted relative to what you’d expect, but the distortions mesh perfectly because they’re all identical. You’d compute there to be no stress on the gears because it would be as if space itself were compressed, and the metal atoms are naturally following the compressed space without it seeming at all odd. To the particles themselves, they’d appear to be moving in perfectly straight lines, just as the astronaut sees a perfectly functioning watch. (Credit:Quora and http://www.askamathematic
Star Trek-Style Warp Drive May Be possible
It would take around six to eight months to get to one of our nearest neighbours, Mars using conventional spaceship engines. Though ideas like warp drives are still theoretical, scientists say it might be possible to cut that trip to Mars down to as few as three months using a form of fusion fuel — “dilithium crystals, just like ‘Star Trek,’ Wired.com reported.
In the sci-fi series, the crystals are a rare substance that the crew spend an inordinate amount of time searching for, and their engines can use it to travel faster than the speed of light.
By comparison, this engine being developed at the University of Hunstville by a team working in collaboration with Boeing, NASA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, would be about twice as fast as the best current technology.
According to Txchnologist, General Electric’s online tech magazine, this fusion reactor would be fueled by “a few tonnes” of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) and lithium-6 (a stable molecule of lithium) in a crystalline structure.
When the deuterium and the lithium-6 are forced together under high pressure they undergo a fusion reaction — a process which they’re still trying to turn into a net producer of energy. While fusion isn’t yet a viable fuel source, recent developments in the field seem to indicate that we can’t be far away.
The engine, dubbed the “Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator”, would be constructed in space along with the rest of the spaceship to avoid the tricky engineering difficulties of getting all that delicate fusion equipment up through the atmosphere — just like the International Space Station.
Once ready, the reactor would be engaged, and millions of amps are passed through super-thin lithium wires in 100 nanosecond pulses — this could generate up to three terrawatts of power. Those wires vaporise into plasma, which is collapsed onto the core of deuterium and lithium-6, inducing a fusion reaction.
The energy from that would be forced out the back of the ship in a so-called “z-pinch” using a “magnetic nozzle”, a component which the team are also developing.
Einstein Still Relevant Past Speed Of Light
Australian experts have developed new formulas to allow Einstein’s theories to work beyond the speed of light. Despite this, what will happen when matter passes the speed of light remains a mystery.
“The special theory of relativity is one of the most successful theories on the planet. It’s been verified in many many instances,” says Hill. “We’ve tried to project the special relativity theory beyond the speed of light.”
In Einstein’s view of the world, you cannot go faster than the speed of light. For decades people have tried to come up with new theories to cope with velocities faster than the speed of light, but now Hill and Cox have come up with a new approach.
“As far as I’m aware this is the first natural logical extension of Einstein’s own theories,” says Hill. “We certainly haven’t superseded Einstein. The two theories are entirely consistent.”
Hill and Cox have come up with new formulas that extend Einstein’s understanding of the relationship between the relative velocity of two different bodies (A and B) in space, and the velocity they observe of a third body (C).
Relative velocity is the difference in velocity between A and B. When relative velocity is zero, both bodies see C moving at the same speed. But as the relative velocity between A and B increases, they will record different readings of C’s velocity.
When the relative velocity approaches the speed of light, formulas become undefined and special relativity breaks down. Hill and Cox’s formulas extend special relativity to a situation in which the relative velocity can be infinite. It can be used to describe what happens at speeds greater than the speed of light.
However, as with the original Einstein theory the formulas become undefined and break down when the relative velocity reduces to the speed of light. “In both theories the speed of light remains a mathematical singularity,” says Hill.
Hill says this mathematical fuzziness at the speed of light means we still don’t know what will happen to basic matter when it actually passes through this velocity. “You’ve still got this business that when you actually go through the speed of light you don’t know what’s going to go on,” he says.
“Life is this place where we travel less than the speed of light and I have a feeling the world will change in some dramatic way as we move through the speed of light.” “All sorts of things could happen. Time and space could interchange.” He likens our current situation to that we were in before aircraft could fly through the sound barrier.
“People wondered what would happen – were we all going to disintegrate? Would the plane fall apart,” says Hill. “It turns out passing through the speed of sound led to a big bang.”
“I suspect going through the speed of light will be more interesting.” Anna Salleh ABC Science
- Hidden in Einstein’s Math: Faster-than-Light Travel? (livescience.com)
- Is lightspeed really a limit? Solving super-luminal Special Relativity (theregister.co.uk)