Through The Wormhole: Can We Travel Faster Than Light?
Prior to the day in 1947 when test pilot Charles E. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time, people argued it wasn’t possible for a plane to fly that fast. So, perhaps we shouldn’t be deterred by the part of Einstein’s special theory of relativity that seemingly bars traveling at speeds faster than light.
That said, cracking the light-speed barrier is vastly more complicated than going faster than sound. The aircraft that Yeager used to break Mach 1, for example, didn’t have to change form. But according to Einstein, an object that attains light speed would be converted to energy itself.
Nevertheless, as some physicists point out, there are nuances of Einsteinian physics that might permit faster-than-light travel. While an object can’t exceed the speed of light in space-time, space-time itself can be warped and distorted, as if it were a stretched-out bed sheet.
If a spaceship could harness something really powerful – like a bunch of super-dense matter from a neutron star – it might be possible to warp space-time enough to briefly pull two distant points together, the way that the edges of the bed sheet would come together if you dropped a heavy weight in the middle. Such warps in space-time – which are known as wormholes – in theory may occur naturally in some places, and a spaceship might be able to exploit them to travel enormous distances extremely quickly. List of all episodes here: Through The Wormhole.
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