The Speed of Light

The following are some thoughts I had the other day. Maybe it will spark a story idea in someone, or a discussion in the comments. Sorry if anyone of you find this post boring. I will return to my usual family/writing posts tomorrow.

It is known that the light we see from stars at night originated long ago. In other words, when you look up at the sky you are peering into the past. It could be that a star you see tonight doesn’t even exist any more. With the help of the Hubble telescope, Astronomers are able to see further into the universe’s past. I was contemplating this the other day and a few questions came into my mind.

Lets imagine that in the distant future we are finally able to travel at the speed of light. In fact, let’s say we are able to travel beyond the speed of light. Assuming we somehow manage to have unlimited or regenerating fuel, call it “Magic Pixie Dust”, would we be able to travel far enough to witness the birth of the universe? As soon as our vessel stopped, would time suddenly catch up to us?

O.K. so we were able to witness the birth of the universe. Would there be any way to communicate this information with our peers on Earth? By the time we returned to Earth it would be millions of years later, or if we never slowed down, could we return to Earth just after we left on our journey. Or, would we have to somehow send our message at speeds beyond the speed of light in order for it to return to Earth in time.

Who knows the answers to any of these questions? Our children’s, children’s, children’s, etc. will not know the answers. Man may never achieve the speed of light. It is fun to think about what if, though.

8 thoughts on “The Speed of Light

  1. You know, I often find it interesting that I am so untroubled by issues like these ever since I finished reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

  2. I read an interesting book about physics and time – About Time by Paul Davies:

    http://www.amazon.com/About-Time-Einsteins-Unfinished-Revolution/dp/0684818221

    I didn’t study Physics at school so it was a challenge for me to understand the concepts but I think the information he has in that book would answer your questions. Although the concepts were difficult for me to grasp, the book is written for the ordinary reader (i.e. someone without a science background). I would highly recommend it.

    The ms I’m redrafting deals with ideas about the universe and travelling long distances in space. I struggle with the physics but at the same time I want to understand it. This was an interesting post – not remotely boring!

  3. Thanks for the link Helen. Maybe I can find that book at the library somewhere. I had a physics course in college and the stuff about Quantum Physics blew me away. I hope your manuscript is published because it sounds interesting.

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