Physicists Show Us What Hyperspace Travel Might Look Like. Is Ludicrous Speed Next?

By Rich Steeves January 16, 2013

Outer space is big. If you are setting a sci-fi TV show or movie in outer space, you better make sure your characters can travel faster than the speed of light or most of the screen time will be spent waiting for them to get from one star system to another.

But the creators of properties like Star Wars and Star Trek aren’t as concerned with showing actual physics on the screen as they are with making their products cool and entertaining. This means you could have characters standing on the bridge of the Enterprise as lights flash around them when the ship goes into “Time Warp Factor” mode (as in the first Star Trek pilot, “Menagerie”), which looked cheap and silly. Or, you might see Han Solo punching his Millenium Falcon into hyperspace with a swirl of stars, thrilling the audiences who first saw Star Wars in 1977. You might even have Spaceball One “going to plaid” as it moves at Ludicrous Speed.

These are all fictional ideas of course, made up by Hollywood not to convey what faster-than-light travel might actually look like, rather to illustrate how science works in an a more interesting way. Although science fiction isn’t based off of any facts or theories, scientists love to use these ideas as jumping off points for real research, so it should come as no surprise that a group of physicists decided to see what faster-than-light travelers might actually see.

Scientists at the University of Leicester decided that the Doppler Effect would cause a shift in the wavelength of the light emanating from stars, moving it past the visible spectrum. In other words, Han Solo, Captain Kirk (or Picard or Janeway or others, take your pick) would see nothing. In fact, the stars’ radiation would shift all the way to the X-Ray portion of the spectrum, and therefore the ships would need to include shielding against those rays. That is, in addition to shields that protect them from Imperial blaster fire or Klingon photon torpedoes. I guess traveling through hyperspace really ain’t like dusting crops…




Edited by Ashley Caputo

TechZone360 Web Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Avaya Files Chapter 11, Plans Restructuring

By: Steve Anderson    1/20/2017

Avaya turns to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a bid to make some key changes and attempt to recover for the future.

Read More

Reports of the Death of the Deskphone are Premature; Allworx Says We're on the Verge of a Deskphone Revolution

By: Erik Linask    1/19/2017

We've heard commentary about the death of the deskphone for several years now. Yet, if you look on most corporate desktops, you'll still find one. The…

Read More

Microsoft Makes AI Moves in Montreal

By: Alicia Young    1/19/2017

Recently, Microsoft has shown a growing interest in Montreal's booming artificial intelligence (AI) presence. This has spurred a series of acquisition…

Read More

What to Do About Netflix Shares

By: Steve Anderson    1/19/2017

Netflix has destroyed all estimates about its share prices, but how should investors respond?

Read More

The End of Work as We Know It: 6 Big Predictions for 2017

By: Farrell Hough    1/19/2017

The future of work in 2017 and beyond will center on using increasingly capable technologies to improve our productivity to the point where we can foc…

Read More