19 February 2006

Space Travel at Near-Light Speed Possible?

Incredible news, but in a way that is reminiscent of cold fusion:

The field equation of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity has never before been solved to calculate the gravitational field of a mass moving close to the speed of light. Felber's research shows that any mass moving faster than 57.7 percent of the speed of light will gravitationally repel other masses lying within a narrow 'antigravity beam' in front of it. The closer a mass gets to the speed of light, the stronger its 'antigravity beam' becomes.

"Dr. Felber's research will revolutionize space flight mechanics by offering an entirely new way to send spacecraft into flight," said Dr. Eric Davis, Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin and STAIF peer reviewer of Felber's work. "His rigorously tested and truly unique thinking has taken us a huge step forward in making near-speed-of-light space travel safe, possible, and much less costly."

Before this antigravity discovery, it was considered impossible to travel anywhere near the speed of light because, for one thing, light is muthaf*ckin fast. Also, according to relativity, mass increases with velocity. As velocity nears light speed, mass increases towards infinity. Therefore, an object would need infinite energy to propel itself while it gradually became infinitely heavy. And so that was the end of that.

But now we might have antigravity at our disposal. This could be the Holy Grail of space exploration. It would follow the wheel and sail in the story of human civilization. But I cannot imagine how an object can be propelled at 57.7% light speed. I calculate that to be 385 million mph. Could fusion move something that fast?

However it happens, Felber thinks it will happen by the end of the century. If Felber is right about this it will be big news. Not for us, because we’ll be dead. But it will be a big thrill for our parched descendants.


Mark said...

Have you heard of the ramjet model (big in Larry Niven's sf stories) where a ship would gather hydrogen atoms from deep space to use as fusion fuel so it could constantly accelerate without carrying fuel with it?

If we could build a ramjet, it could eventually get that fast but I have no idea how long it would take.

WestEnder said...

I hadn't heard of the space ramjet, but that is an amazing concept, at least in theory. Niven has a lot of amazing concepts. His ideas show up in physics classes and textbooks a lot.

A ramjet wouldn't have to be used for space travel; it could be used for space colonization. A colony could provide its energy that way and just wander around the universe...

Daniella said...

I have to do my take home exam tonight, at least start, it is due on Saturday. First year Physics and I loved it even though I had no maths to speak of I just found it stimulating. I wish I was a young girl, I would definitely pursue a more scientific path.

The thing about sciences is that it is making me see things in a very different way. So I guess an old dog can learn new tricks.

I love this anti-gravity theory, it might be the answer to space colonialization. Loved Heilein will have to look up Niven.

Thanks interesting post.

Mark said...

Nivens wrote (and I think still writes) a lot with Jerry Pournelle who is right of Hitler. I like the science but some of their social theories make State of Fear seem realistic.