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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Faster than Light Science

One of the issues facing interstellar travel is the amount of time it takes to cover vast distances. For the sake of fiction, and keeping my characters alive during their interplanetary tours of duty, I'm fudging real facts to fit the needs of fiction.


Albert Einstein proposed the theory that the speed of light 186,000 miles per second. Pretty fast, but not fast enough to zip between solar systems in days. In recent years João Magueijo from the Imperial College of London has suggested a new theory, that the speed of light is variable.

We already know it is possible to slow light down. It's been done. Several times. What Magueijo is suggesting is that, sent through the correct medium, light could be sped up past the speed Einstein calculated. To the best of my knowledge, this is still theoretical.

Regardless, the slow light proves that the speed of light is variable, not fixed. Although 186,000 miles/second may be the highest possible speed in vacuum.

In Under a Dark Star I play with the idea that there are patches of space where a ship can travel significantly faster than Einstein allowed. It keeps the characters young.


Do you believe in telepathy? It's quite possible your DNA does. Some genes are able "telepathically" communicate over a distance. Go ahead, check the facts. If you read you find that it only looks telepathic, there is no explanation of any kind to say how these genes are communicating. It could be something as simple as hydrogen bonds, although it probably isn't.

For Under a Dark Star I created the Protoapis sp. bacteria, a living organism with a hive mind that can communicate over long distances.

Here's what I have written up about the fictional species (yes it is copyrighted to me and no you may not borrow it for your work- go make up your own creatures):

The discovery of Protoapis s. on Dema Prime in the Forloe sector opened the doors for true interstellar exploration and communication. Protoapis s. is unique in the fact that the individual bacteria cells seem to share a sympathetic bond commonly referred to as the “hive mind”. The sympathetic structure of the bacteria cells allows one bacteria to mimic changes applied to another neighboring bacteria. In the case of Protoapis televocci the reach of he sympathetic bond can exceed a range of one hundred thousand kilometers. Further research proved that when a specimen of P. televocci species was fitted with a nano chip that emitted small pulses of electricity the sympathetic bond allowed other P. televocci bacteria to biologically reproduce a similar electric emitting mechanism from a nutrients on a standard agar plate. This experiment was repeated in an orbiting vessel with success both on the research vessel but also on P. televocci on the planet.

And people wonder why I write sci-fi....