Ever wish you could travel at the speed of light to your favorite destinations? Once you see the reality of that speed, you may rethink everything.
“There are some important things you should probably know about approaching the speed of light,” NASA’s new video, Guide to Near-light-speed Travel, explains. “First, a lot of weird things can happen, like time and space getting all bent out of shape.”
According to the video, if you’re traveling at nearly the speed of light, the clock inside your rocket would show it takes less time to travel to your destination as it would on Earth. But, since the clocks at home would be moving at a standard rate you’d return home to everyone else being quite a bit older.
“Also, because you’re going so fast, what would otherwise be just a few hydrogen atoms that you’d run into quickly becomes a lot of dangerous particles. So you should probably have shields that keep them from frying your ship and also you.”
Finally, the video tackles the fact that even if you were moving at the speed of light, the “universe is also a very big place, so you might be in for some surprises.” For example, your rocket’s clock will say it takes about 9 months to get from Earth to the edge of the solar system. An Earth clock would say it took about a year and a half.
“If you want to get to farther out vacation spots,” the video explains, “you’ll probably need more than a few extra snacks. A trip to the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest large neighbor galaxy, can take over one million years. And a trip to the farthest known galaxy where it currently sits might take over 15 billion years, which is more vacation time than I think I’ll ever have.”
The video doesn’t explain how your rocket will travel at the speed of light. Our technology just isn’t there yet, but maybe the aliens will share that tech with us soon? Though if you are interested in how humans are working to deploy a laser-powered lightsail to Alpha Centauri, check out an in-depth explanation on ScienceAlert, which will make you feel just a little smarter today.
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