Unbearable Slowness
Space Travel

by Mike Ivsin

It wasn't hard to turn onto this road, just hard science. He and his fellow rocketmen widened and polished this road over the past eighty years. One could push the speed to almost that of light. Now, this road was nothing but a detour.

    "One hell of a missing time," he thought. "Not Twilight Zone — God, they cannot make an episode out of this!"

Going back to the aftermath of the war-to-end-all-wars, we find the year 1919 afresh with the dead and mutilated soldiers of the first chemical war, the first air war, the first tank war, and possibly the first biological war. In U-boat crosshairs the sailors, passengers and cargo became the undifferentiated one, and many souls became one with the ocean. Twelve million tons of allied shipping was sunk by subs. While technically straightforward, it may not be humanly possible to compile battlefield statistics attributed to the new machine gun firing at ten bullets per second.

In 1919, Napoleon was not a brand of brandy and Big Bertha did not need protection of a trademark. With an eighty-mile range, Big Bertha the cannon sent its explosive charge for the first time over the horizon straight downtown. The first world war, brought upon Europe by the dislocations and opportunities arising from the industrial revolution, was declared by a few men for the benefit of a few. The invention of synthetic rubber, which today would be greeted with a stock runup, found new motorized divisions on the road. There was no middle for the middle class and an aspiring young man was simply the common man. Common man could and did offer a life of loyalty in exchange for a crisp uniform, education, medical care, and promise of the piece of the action. Thus, the winning of spoils for the Emperor could be seen as a triumph over the poverty of the human condition. In the spinmaster's mind of the day, giving a man a job was to have him gainfully fighting for the power that is ours by taking things away from the power that is theirs.

The year 1919 also brought a swift international execution of a scientific experiment. 1919 happened to be a year offering a total solar eclipse and the opportunity to validate a theory that would usher in real knowledge about the order of the universe. The triumph of the 1919 experiment was to be something everybody hoped for. The uncontrolled breakdown of the world order could be juxtaposed against the human understanding of the order of the universe. If we could understand the order of the universe, we could take it as a model for our own human order. That was the Maxim. Within the 1919 experiment there was not only hope, there could be a proof. Imagine, we did not need a fictional character, a politician, or a spiritual leader to declare: "Make it so!" because it was so and it was good.

From 1919 through the present, Einstein's general theory of relativity stands out as one of the singular achievements of the 20th century. Black hole, wormhole, gravitational lensing, gravity waves, and the big bang - all entered the hip vernacular of the modern citizen. The platform we build on today was delivered in 1919 when the tenet of the general theory of relativity was thought to have been confirmed by experiment: Light from a distant star indeed changed its path when it passed close to the body of our sun. Backed by eighty years of consensus, the scientist can stand up unflinchingly today, proclaim the facts of a case, explain this and that about the universe, and quite likely get funding for the latest extension of this theory. As solid as the general theory of relativity may seem, however, there may be less to it than meets the eye.

Light traverses spatial distance with parameters that can be readily measured. Space gives no preference to the components of light and all of light's energies, i.e., colors, travel at the same speed. When light travels through mass or matter - such as through glass, water, air, or the sun's corona - lights of different colors propagate at different speeds and different angles, and that is how a rainbow or the crimson evening sky comes about. In the general theory of relativity, it is self evident that inside an accelerating object, say a room, light enters through the window, but strikes the opposite wall of the room below the geometrically straight line because the room is accelerating upward, while light travels at finite speed. There is no contention that all frequencies of light trace the same curved path inside the accelerating room. Einstein, however, extended this axiom and postulated that acceleration is gravity. The 1919 experiment was set up to verify that "if light's path bends as a result of acceleration, then light's path will bend as a result of gravity." From this point on, matter is thought to move because it is on a path that is actually sloping. It moves more the more space is curved, and the more it is curved, the more mass there is, and then it moves even more. In the end, matter gets all balled up in a black hole.

The starlight of 1919 passed close to the surface of the sun to allow gravity do its thing on the light. However, light also passed through the sun's corona and, passing through such matter, light's path bent. This is an alternate explanation of this observation, and a new experiment would be able to confirm the new interpretation. Light's path does not bend because it is in proximity to a mass(ive) body. Light's path bent in 1919 and will bend in 1999 because light passes through and optically interacts with matter comprising the sun's corona.

For now, let us accept the new interpretation and further resolve that gravity has no influence on light or the space in which light propagates. Gravity results in several things, and one of them is acceleration, but acceleration is not gravity. Being pressed into the seat of an accelerating rocket ship, you are not subject to gravity because gravity does more than just keep you on the floor. Swimming does not make you a fish even if all fish are swimmers. The results obtained by the general theory of relativity remain applicable to mutually accelerating independent objects, but these results cannot be extrapolated to gravity in general and to the gravitational effects on space in particular.

    To resolve the dissimilar interpretations of the observed bending of the light's path, the following experiment is proposed: Duplicate the original experiment and additionally record the spectral data of the observed distant star. If the bending effect is optical, we will record a spectral spread akin to the prism effect. If the effect is gravitational, the prism effect - the rainbow - would not exist.

It is easy enough to point to tides and earthquakes as events that dissipate the energy of moving bodies such that, eventually, all things grind to a halt. When pressed, the physicist throws the book at infidels, to wit: The Second Law of Thermodynamics. [Quickly, this law tells us that everything ends up homogenized.] Enjoying the accusation of being nonconformist, we merely confirm that this law applies to closed systems only - those systems that are completely isolated from everything else. Altogether now, we can make a statement that a lifetime supply of classical chalk will never figure in explaining how spinning bodies and spinning compositions we observe could conceivably do so. We can make a spinning galaxy spin faster by moving the mass closer to its center because the rotating energy is conserved, but the classical physicist has no clue on how the angular rotation happened to get there in the first place.

Should you inquire about the flatness of our solar system or the pancake shape of our galaxy, the answer invariably is: "Oh, it's the spin." Presently, however, there is no framework that would entice moving bodies to spin and flatten out into almost two-dimensional congregations. Would matter give up on the third degree of freedom for the sake of organizing itself, or do we need to unveil a cosmic magician giving each galactic plate a twirl every so often? Perhaps put some well-known authority in charge of that.

In the days the earth was flat and when the stars were stagelights of heaven, it took a strong beast to carry the burden of matter. Atlas was strong enough, by definition, but turtle has a strong rounded shell and could be big enough to qualify as well. But questions persisted. If the turtle is holding the earth, what is supporting the turtle? It is said the proponent of the turtle theory asserted: "It's turtles all the way down!" Yet, the turtle pyramid is with us to this day. When there is a need to rationalize the spin of heavenly assemblies, there inexplicably appear larger spinning structures or larger shearing fields, at which point the computer has no difficulty transferring the rotation to where it is needed.

N-bodies under gravitational interaction swing and collide and sometimes break up and sometimes accumulate and come apart again because their energy in the form of the dynamic punch called momentum is conserved. When bodies physically contact, the momentum that is taken from one body is imparted on another - always and exactly adding up to the same value before and after. The conservation of momentum can also be expressed as the conservation of energy that is carried by moving bodies. The moving energy has the component of the linear or straight motion and that of the spinning or angular motion.

When an object falls toward the earth, we cannot help but notice that the object's speed - its moving energy - continues to increase. Classically, the falling apple need not be cognizant of the earth because the apple is a completely independent object that is falling in a trajectory that is actually, really, and invisibly curved.

In the quantum mechanical foundation of gravitation, however, the apple moves toward the earth because there is a continuous addition of momentum to both the apple and the earth. As momentum grows, both the apple and the earth accelerate toward each other. We can visualize the momenta as two sharpened pencils pointing at each other, one belonging to apple and the other to earth, where both pencils are getting longer. The "magic" of quantum mechanics appears when we enforce the conservation of energy, because, then, the addition of every bit of momentum is instantaneous and simultaneous in both the apple and the earth. In effect and in fact, time is subordinated to the conservation of energy. The magic is not the instantaneous nature of momentum's appearance because, on the atomic scale, this phenomenon is the working principle of a transistor. What is new is the ability of this mechanism (collapse of the wavefunction in physics speak) to operate on a scale outside of the atomic dimensions.

The not-so-magical part is that the sum of the two momenta is always zero, and thus the momentum imparted upon the apple is the same as the momentum imparted upon the earth, while both momenta point in the opposite direction and even out each other. In other words, we take a stand that energy does not just appear and also that the moving apple trajectory need not perform explanatory contortions. Quantum mechanically, then, the apple and the earth form an interacting and mutually accelerating system where the energy is conserved within this system even though there is no physical contact between the two. The apple accelerates toward the earth, but the system comprised of the apple and the earth is not accelerating.

The beautiful part of quantum mechanical gravitation is that the angular momentum is exchanged and conserved as well. As the two pencils representing the momentum are getting longer, they also commence spinning. For energy to be conserved, one pencil spins clockwise while the other counterclockwise - and also the larger body will spin slower since each body gains the same rotational energy. Well, for the first time we can explain why everything in the universe is spinning.


Let the Universe Spin

If we believe all physical objects are independent, then the only way to move an object at will is to impart momentum to it via an explosive charge or eject mass from it in the form of a gas or particle stream. Quantum mechanically, however, we need to figure out how to reverse the momentum addition mechanism between two physical bodies - that is, how to get the two pencils to point away from each other. There is every reason to regard this mechanism as reversible because the sum of the two momenta is zero, coming or going. For better or for worse, this ain't rocket science.

Solar systems and their planets have the mass and thus are the source of momentum needed to attain high speeds for the galactic travel. Different celestial bodies can be selected and momentum vectored, fairly quickly, to the selected body. Arched solar systems form high-density "momentous" rivers that can be tapped for longer-range travel. When the billions of Milky Way solar systems are chartered (and most likely, some are already settled), one can think of moving intergalactically. Although the formalizing geometry differs, two or more galaxies exchange momentum as well, and in a particular context the energy is conserved intergalactically as well.

I hope we leave to our children more than just a mountain of . . . It's the whole universe out there. See you there

Propulsion? Scotty, for hundred years now, I don't want propulsion

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