SPEED and the exchange of information

     Understanding the physical universe and the laws that govern it, is a noble endeavor.  As we apply our latest technology to look further and further into space, attempting to locate life somewhere else in the universe, I wonder if our limited funds might better be spent in other more beneficial areas of scientific discovery, such as, developing a space drive capable of producing tremendous continuous power without the need for massive amounts of fuel.  The not-so-new ion propulsion drive is a good start.

     I was asked if we should spend more money (or continue to spend money) on the search for life beyond our system.  Although this endeavor is fun on many levels, and even possibly enlightening, the information obtained is virtually irrelevant data.  We could never communicate in real time – not with today’s technology, and we could never visit them.  Radio messages are merely different frequencies of light, therefore they are restricted by the speed limit of the universe, a limit that Albert Einstein made us painfully aware of, the speed of light.  Even if we could travel at one-tenth the speed of light (that’s one million, one hundred and sixteen thousand miles per hour [1,116,000 mph]), it would take us hundreds and hundreds of years to get there, if they are even there now.  As we view distant galaxies, we are seeing what it was like many hundreds (if not thousands) of years ago, not the way it is today. 

     The speed of light is approximately eleven million one hundred sixty thousand miles per hour.  In order to obtain this speed we are shown  by Einstein’s equations that it would require an infinite amount of energy to reach that threshold.  Even a fool knows there is no such thing as an infinite amount of energy.  Finding a way around this delima seems to me to be the most important engineering problem we face today.

     Therefore, all the money we spend on bigger and bigger telescopes to view even further into space, could better be spent finding a way around this speed limit.  I think we should take a fresh look, with new minds, void of preconceptions, at the exchange of information over vast distances.  I feel that once we are able to move data over vast distances at speeds greater than that of light, we might have a really good chance of understanding how we might traverse those vast distances physically.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sailor on April 15, 2007 at 10:08 pm

         This was revised of April 15, 2007 – The original draft did not read right and should not have been published.  Sorry about that.

    Reply

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