In ancient times, it was impossible for people to travel all over the earth. In modern times, it is easy for people to travel from the south pole to the North Pole. The main reason for this gap is that they have the advantage of speed. In ancient times, there was no developed technology. At that time, people could travel basically on foot, or at most on horseback. It was impossible to travel all over the world at this speed. Moreover, without advanced means of transportation, the ocean could not be crossed at all.
In modern times, with the rise of human scientific and technological civilization, transportation is more and more developed, and the speed of cars and planes is faster and faster. With the advantage of speed, the earth becomes smaller, and distance is no longer a problem. With the rapid development of human science and technology, we go out of the earth and see the vast universe. At this time, we also realize the smallness of the earth. In front of the vast universe, the speed advantage we are proud of is gone.
On the earth, our distance unit is kilometer, while on the cosmic scale, in the universe, the basic distance unit is light year. The basic speed of navigation in the universe is the speed of light. If the speed of human spaceship does not reach the speed of light, it is not a real interstellar civilization. In fact, the speed of light is very slow in the universe. Even if the spaceship flies at the speed of light and wants to cross the galaxy, it will take about 200000 years. This also tells us that we can’t get out of the galaxy if we fly at the speed of light.
So how fast are our spaceships now? Take voyager-1 as an example. Its initial speed is not fast, but after several accelerations in space, its current speed can reach about 60000 km / h, which is the ultimate speed that human science and technology can achieve. In fact, the fastest spaceship for human should be the new vision spaceship launched in 2006, with a speed of about 5 km / h 85.36 million km.
The reason why voyager-1 is faster than new horizons is that it used several planetary accelerations during its flight in the solar system to speed up the spacecraft. Otherwise, without this planetary acceleration, voyager-1’s speed is very slow. The early human detector technology is not very developed, and the speed is naturally limited.
Is that fast? If it’s on earth, it’s very fast, but if it’s in the universe, it’s too slow. We are now closer to Mars, and the spacecraft will need to fly for about five months. At this speed, we can’t even fly out of the solar system, let alone explore the stars outside the system. Therefore, it is the speed that really restricts the progress of human exploration of the universe. As long as there is a super fast speed, the process of exploring the universe will speed up a lot.
In recent years, scientists have been actively exploring new propulsion technologies, such as nuclear fusion engine, antimatter engine and so on. But it’s not easy to do that. Although controllable fusion technology has made some achievements, it is still far from the real application, and it will take a long time to realize the application of fusion engine. The antimatter engine is even more distant. Now our research on antimatter is in the stage of laboratory theoretical research.
In addition to these very large engine technologies, which propulsion technology is expected to be realized in the near 50 years? Recently, NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory tested a lithium-ion thruster driven by a laser beam. The thruster is expected to exceed 1.6 million kilometers per hour, or even faster.
Nuclear fusion and antimatter engine are far away for us, but laser propulsion technology is expected to achieve a major breakthrough in decades. ·This kind of propulsion technology is much more advanced than the chemical fuel and ion propulsion currently used. Once it is realized, the speed of the spacecraft is expected to achieve a qualitative breakthrough, and it may reach a speed of 1.6 million kilometers per hour at least.
Although this speed is far away from the speed of light, it is two levels faster than our current spacecraft. It only takes a few days for a spacecraft with this speed to reach Mars, and it won’t take more than a year to reach Pluto on the edge of the solar system. Scientists say they are confident that it will be realized by 2050. So can this speed allow humans to fly out of the solar system to explore?
Although laser propulsion technology can greatly increase the speed of the spacecraft, it is still unable to leave the solar system. The position of the edge of the solar system is not beyond Pluto, but out of the Oort nebula. If you include the Oort star, the diameter of the solar system can reach 2 light-years. 2 light years is a very small distance on the cosmic scale, but it is a very difficult distance for human beings.
If you want to fly out of the solar system, the speed of the spacecraft must at least reach the speed of sub light. The technology that is expected to achieve this speed may be controllable nuclear fusion technology. The energy of nuclear fusion is huge. The engine made by it can make the spacecraft fly at sub light speed. In this way, there is no problem to fly out of the solar system. Moreover, with sub light speed flight, we can also explore the distance from the solar system Some of the more recent galaxies, such as alpha in Centaurus.
So what kind of powerful energy is needed to achieve the speed of light? This may require antimatter, which is still being studied by human beings. The energy of antimatter is much more powerful than nuclear fusion, because the engine made with antimatter as energy is expected to increase the speed of spacecraft to infinitely close to the speed of light. Only in this way can human beings initially enter the interstellar civilization, and the galaxies that can be explored will be further.
Of course, the speed of light is only the basic speed of the universe. It can make human civilization develop by leaps and bounds. But if you want to really cross the galaxy or even fly out of the galaxy, you have to fly faster than the speed of light. Is superluminal the fastest speed in the universe? It is estimated that this is not true. The universe is vast and vast. Now our observable universe is 93 billion light-years. With the rapid development of science and technology, this range will continue to expand. No one knows how big the universe is, but we know that it must be beyond our imagination, and the universe is still expanding.
Since the universe exists, there must be speed across the universe, otherwise the existence of the universe will be meaningless. If you want to cross the universe and reach the edge, there must be a higher speed mode than superluminal flight. For example, wormhole shuttle, two galaxies that may be millions of light-years apart, will take a long time to fly at superluminal speed. But if you open a wormhole, you can reach it in a few seconds, which is completely beyond our understanding of speed.
There is no end to the development of science, and there is no end to the improvement of speed. I believe no one can say clearly what speed is the limit. Just like temperature, no one knows where the upper limit of temperature is, so is speed. However, the development of human speed still has a long way to go. This road may be tens of thousands of years, hundreds of millions of years, billions of years or even longer.
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