This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.
After entering the era of science and technology, human beings rely on the speed advantage of continuous improvement to realize the desire to travel all over the earth’s surface. Today’s earth has become the back garden of human beings. With fast transportation, we can quickly get from one end of the earth to the other.
With the speed rising again, we went out of the earth and began to explore the universe. Only when we walk out of the earth can we know how vast the universe is. In the face of the vast universe, the speed that human beings are proud of is nothing at all. Even if Voyager 1’s speed reaches 17 kilometers per second, it still takes more than 30 years to reach the edge of the solar system, and it will take at least 10000 years to get out of the Oort cloud.
It is only when we get out of the solar system and enter interstellar space that we really start interstellar travel. However, facing the vast sea of stars, the nearest star system is 4.2 light-years away, and it takes 4.2 years to fly at the speed of light. However, Einstein’s theory of relativity put forward the theory of light speed limit. The speed of a mass object can only be infinitely close to the speed of light, and even photons can only maintain the speed of light and cannot be surpassed.
Even if we achieve infinitely close to the speed of light, we cannot explore the entire galaxy, which is about 100000 light-years in diameter. In our eyes, 100000 light years is a huge range. However, in the face of the 93 billion observable universe, it is as small as dust. To explore the entire galaxy and the sea of stars beyond the galaxy, the speed of the spacecraft needs to exceed the speed of light.
So can the speed of light break through? Although Einstein’s theory of relativity pointed out the theory of light speed limit, it also put forward the theory of space-time distortion. The theory of relativity points out that our universe looks very flat and stable, but it is not. The universe is not peaceful at all. There are distortions everywhere, but the magnitude of the distortions is too small for us to observe.
Moreover, the universe also has some superluminal phenomena. For example, the average expansion speed of the universe exceeds the speed of light. Scientists have also repeatedly observed the superluminal phenomenon of some particles in the deep universe, which may be the result of the distortion of space-time. Since there is a superluminal phenomenon in the universe, we may be able to fly at superluminal speed as long as we find a way.
In the imagination of scientists, there are many ways to surpass the speed of light, such as using the wormhole of the universe to instantly reach the depths of the distant stars. Or use the curvature of space to create a “space-time bubble”, so that the spacecraft can fly faster than light with the space-time bubble. Compared with wormhole, curvature engine is the main research direction of scientists.
Curvature engine is a superluminal method based on the theory of relativity. Its principle is very simple. We can use surfing to make a simple introduction. I believe many friends know that surfing is a brave sport. When we surf, the surfboard under our feet is still. We can move forward quickly. It is the undulating waves that drive the surfboard forward.
The curvature engine has some similarities with this. First, it creates a “space-time bubble”, which is formed by expanding the space in front of the spaceship and compressing the space behind the spaceship. It is equivalent to the wave in surfing. The spaceship in the time bubble is stationary. Because the time bubble breaks the space, it can break the limit of light speed and realize the super light speed flight, which drives the spaceship to realize the super light speed.
Curvature engine is also divided into several levels, and the speed of different levels is also very different. Scientists don’t know how to divide the superluminal speed under the curvature engine. Let’s use the setting of curvature engine in star trek to give a simple description. According to the comparison of speed and superluminal speed in this figure, the 3-level curvature engine can achieve 38 times the speed of light, and the highest level 9.9999 curvature engine can achieve 199516 times the speed of light.
Of course, the highest level of curvature engine is not realized in Star Trek, the highest level is 9.99. At this time, the speed of the spacecraft is 7912 times the speed of light. It’s very easy to cross the galaxy at such a speed, but can you cross the endless sea of stars at this speed? Scientists don’t feel it’s enough.
Why is such a fast speed not enough? Now let’s analyze that 7912 times the speed of light really looks very fast. It still takes 10 years to cross the galaxy at this speed. But let’s not forget that the diameter of the Milky way is only 100000 light-years, and there are even broader cosmic structures above the Milky way, such as the supercluster and the Virgo supergalaxy, which are hundreds of millions of light-years in diameter.
At present, the observable range of the universe is 90 billion light years, and it will take more than 9 million years to cross this range at 7912 times the speed of light. And 90 billion light-years is just the tip of the iceberg of the whole universe. Because the galaxies farther away from us are faster away from us, once the universe expands faster than the speed of light, then photons can’t come to the earth, and we can’t observe them.
Scientists estimate that the current universe may have expanded to trillions of light-years, which is impossible to travel at 7912 times the speed of light. So, this kind of curvature engine speed still can’t let us really cross the stars. It can be seen that curvature engine can not realize the dream of human beings, so how can human beings achieve this goal? Maybe only wormholes exist in theory.
Wormhole is a kind of space-time channel existing in the theory of relativity. Through this channel, no matter how far away you are, you can reach it instantaneously. Only by realizing the wormhole shuttle can we truly cross the star sea, go wherever we want, and truly make the universe our back garden.
Of course, the road of human exploration of the universe will go on step by step. For the present human beings, we have no need to explore the technology of sub light speed flight. Only when we have sub light speed flight, we can go out of the solar system and explore nearby galaxies. At that time, human beings can be regarded as the real primary interstellar civilization and have the primary qualification of StarCraft.
Besides curiosity, another important reason why scientists actively seek and explore alien civilizations is that they expect to get in touch with advanced civilizations and let them help human civilization achieve rapid technological leaps. If we only rely on the efforts of human beings, it may take us a very long time to realize the curvature engine or higher wormhole shuttle.
And time is what human beings lack most at present. Advanced civilization may have developed hundreds of thousands, millions or even hundreds of millions of years earlier than human beings. They may have already mastered curvature engine technology or wormhole shuttle technology. As long as we get the technical help of advanced civilization, we may be able to quickly master the curvature engine and even wormhole technology, so as to quickly become powerful.