Will Interstellar Travel Ever be Possible?
Interstellar travel. The stuff of science fiction! Will the people of Earth ever get the chance to really see the stars? I don't intend to rehash a lot of popular articles about the mechanics of interstellar travel, but whether biological units of Earth would dare to go that far. Some would say, 'Of course we would dare! Humans have been daring nature since we first awoke on this planet.' And others would say, 'Of course not! Space is too vast for biological life to travel.' Both are actually true. The Milky Way, alone, is too vast for biological life to travel, let alone the universe.
On the other hand, human history has taught us that nothing is impossible. They are impossible until we are enlightened, and then it is possible. The round Earth, heliocentric astronomy, the sound barrier, were all impossible at one time. It seems that the more someone says something is impossible, the more likely someone will prove it wrong. Humans are a stiff necked bunch!
So, how will we do it? Well, there are four ways to overcome any barrier set in front of you. Over, under, around and through. So, here we go so buckle up!
We may find that there is another constant in the universe that allows for going faster than the speed of light. Mathematics are always evolving. It is the life blood of physics. We are also discovering new phenomena all the time out there in the universe to puzzle out changing the way we view the universe. We know of many processes that can slow down light, perhaps there are ways to speed it up! Who knows. A hundred years ago, we hardly knew what atoms were!
This is a fine bucket to put wormholes into. If you can't travel through space in the conventional sense, cheat. Cut through space and take a shortcut! People say that is impossible too. For astronomical amounts of energy required, use an astronomical energy source. The Sun. A device could be built to utilize the enormous energy output of the sun and open a wormhole to our destination. At our destination, we keep building these devices to connect stars together and develop a transit system.
If we can't get past the speed of light, then we have to get around our biological limitations. An easy thing that comes to mind, involves suspending our biological processes for a long haul. Freezing, hibernation, even uploading our minds into the ship itself! Traveling at seventy-five percent plus the speed of light should get you anywhere in a 100-500 light year radius. Of course it would depend on how robust your ship is for that duration.
Through as in through a black hole. People are starting to think that things aren't utterly destroyed coming out the other end of a black hole's event horizon. Two large hurdles here though. One, you have to get to a black hole to use it, or you could make your own. Two, the only thing we have been able to detect are photons. Getting yourself turned into photons would require some assembly afterwards.
One thing is clear about human history; given enough time, we will either blow ourselves up, or stretch our reach to the tree of knowledge. Mankind was never much for barriers. Before the sound barrier was broken, people from all over the world said it couldn't be done. That is was a natural barrier that you couldn't get past. Brave men lost their lives in trying to break the sound barrier. But, we built better planes to handle the stresses and turbulence at the speed of sound and eventually it was broken. Many people forget how astonishing that accomplishment was! Faster than the speed of sound! Nowadays people do not think much of it. It is just a fact.
The speed of light barrier may also fall down to humans beating at it until it is broken. I think that mankind has always been used to effort. What is required is time. Every time that we observe something new in the universe, it is another piece of the puzzle that puts us closer to understanding how it works. This puts us a new face on how we view the universe and our place in it.
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