Posts Tagged ‘time dilation’

FTL Drive

November 21, 2010

A wormhole bypass

Are FTL (Faster Than Light) Drives possible? The short answer is yes but the long answer follows:

The amount of energy required is super-galactic in scale. It would take more energy that the entire energy output of a large galaxy to power such a contrivance which really makes FTL impractical. Another important detail is the craft itself cannot create its own space distortion like most Sci Fi depictions show. For this reason I don’t use FTL drives in my Sci Fi stories.

There was a Sci Fi author, I don’t remember his name, that stated a true Sci Fi story should never use more than one improbable device per story. A simple counter example is Star Trek which uses at least two in every episode; FTL drive and matter transporters. I’m not saying that matter transporters cannot exist but certainly not in the way used in Star Trek. I will discuss matter transporters (teleportation) in my next blog.

An important thing to keep in mind is FTL is possible for those on board the craft due to time dilation. If they are accelerating at a continuous one G they will reach the speed of light in one year according to their own on board clock. In two years, if they continue to accelerate at one G, they will reach two times the speed of light in two years and so on. This process must also be reversed on the latter half of the journey by merely flipping the ship and continuing to accelerate. An advantage is you would have artificial gravity but you would probably be in stasis anyway so it wouldn’t really matter. The ship would be controlled by an intelligent computer.

This is the method I chose for Tillian 5 – A New Beginning since the trip was going to take 65 Earth years to complete but only 5 years according to the onboard clock. I used a higher acceleration since the passengers, in stasis, could handle the higher acceleration. The intelligent computer system, Maggie, handled all the systems and emergency situations (except one).

If they would find Tillian 5 uninhabitable they would have to turn around and return to Earth. Considering that this journey would take another 65 years it would be 130 years since they left the planet and they would be a faint memory and perhaps only a legend. Even small children they knew would be long gone. This becomes important background for casting the mindset of those making the journey in this story and it plays and even more important role in Tillian 5 – Return to Earth the follow on volume, which is now available as well.

Now let’s suppose there is a super-galactic civilization out there somewhere that is perhaps a billion years ahead of us technologically with FTL drives. Do you think they would share that technology with us? Would we share our technology with sewer rats giving them jumper jets and cannons they can operate? I guess I have to take that one back since we did successfully train alley cats to use machine guns during WWII. Thankfully, the military officer in charge of this operation (a cat lover), when he found out, quickly killed the plan.