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How would you go faster in space?

I’m trying to write a story, with much of it involving the colonization of space, but I can’t wrap my head around how long space travel takes and have been looking at every possible way to make it faster. Wormholes, faster-than-light theories, everything! I don’t think I understand enough about quantum mechanics or physics in general to come up with something plausible.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Light speed is the fastest to go.
    Unfortunately no man will EVER come close
    to going that fast in space travel, or just travel in general.

  2. warp technology has beeen theorized but requires too much energy and is a little far ahead of us right now.
    it’s done by creating an ‘egg’ or ‘shell’ of space around something, say a starship, and compressing the space in front of it (the way you want to go) and expanding the space behind it, so technically the ship isn’t moving but is making progress

  3. Sci-fi technology doesn’t work… that’s why it’s fiction. Just make it plausible and don’t over explain it or the reader will realize you don’t know what you’re talking about. To avoid cliche you could take an already used sci fi device like wormholes and change it a bit.

  4. The easiest way for you to create science fiction without the hard physics is to craft your propulsion technology on some “unknown” alien race’s work
    That way you dont have to explain how it works.

  5. If you’re trying to keep it within the bounds of reality then you should avoid things such as wormholes and faster-than-light travel because they are just a theory and impossible, respectively.
    Unfortunately the most realistic option would be to have your explorers travel near the speed of light, but at that speed even reaching the closest star (with no planets mind you) would take over 4 years.
    You don’t need to understand quantum mechanics to be creative though. Feel free to use wormholes and faster-than-light travel, they are interesting concepts and will make your story possible. Don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and make things up, its called story for a reason.

  6. If you stick with known science, there’s no way for a material object to travel faster than light (FTL). I think the jury is still out on whether there are any immaterial particles that can beat the limit. They may exist in theory, but no one’s found one yet.
    So, if your plot requires it, you do what SF authors have been doing for the last century: You make something up. I.e., invent some mumbo-jumbo explanation for how FTL works — or just ignore the problem — and write your story. It’s traditional. Only the hopelessly pedantic will complain.
    The alternative is to stick to sub-light speeds and have your travelers take years, decades or even centuries in transit (with some twiddling with perceived time compression if they get close enough to light speed) — or just forget about it and stay within our Solar System.

  7. If you want quasi-realism, I would suggest slower-than-light speed transit that takes years and years from A to B, but the crew members can be placed in sort of cryogenic suspension or stasis. Of course, this might not meet the time-frame requirements of your plot, but it’s an idea. Good luck.

  8. There has never been the slightest indication that any matter or information (that includes spaceships) can exceed the speed of light under any circumstances.
    Since this is fiction, you are of course entitled to pretend this isn’t the case in the name of drama and plot.
    Useful forms of propulsion which do not break the laws of physics include:
    Fusion drives, which heat a reaction propellant using thermonuclear fusion and expel it out of an exhaust nozzle, generating thrust.
    Annihilation drives, as above, but using the heat released from matter/antimatter annihilation instead.
    Although you may see stories where they are used, ion drives are super-efficient but give off minute thrust. They are useless for anything heavier than a satellite.
    You have two options. Either you can restrict your story to the solar system, or exploit time dilation at high speeds.
    People, when writing SF, often overlook how interesting the solar system is. There is more than enough real estate to stage action and adventure on. This is good option, especially if you want to make it a near-future story. But, alas, no aliens.
    At speeds close to that of light, time slows down. At 0.995c, for example, every year on a spacecraft is a decade for everyone else.
    If you have a spacecraft with a sufficiently powerful propulsion system, you can exploit this time dilation to shorten journey times.
    However, the for the external world the journey take the same amount of time. You can travel into the future, but not back again. You could make this a plot point
    Earlier on, I said that we cannot exceed the speed of light. That wasn’t strictly true. We cannot move faster than light, but it may be possible to circumvent it. A special type of wormhole called a Morris-Thorne wormhole has been seriously considered by physicists. Normally a wormhole would be unstable, but MT is held open by a shell of negative energy in its throat.
    There are many unanswered questions about wormholes, and it is unclear whether nature abhors them or not.

  9. This is totally science fiction, but you cann use a devise known as the space ripper. It was first introduced on late a infomercial on The Sci-Vid Channel in the year 2118. At first everyone thought it was just another TV scam, but after it was proved to actually be able to cut a rip in space to transport people into new and unknown demensions, The Feebian corperation murdered its Creator( Keven Malox) and took the device for themselves. What the Feebian Corperation didn’t know though, was that it was actually Kevens son Dilbert Maylox, that had created it. After his dads death Dilbert disapeared and continued his experiments with the Space Ripper. The boy genious Dilbert was soon able to transform the Space Ripper into the Space Zipper.
    What the Space Zipper does is like this. Suppose you have a deck of cards. Each card is a differant universe. Now suppose that each of these universes is in constantly shuffling in around in a thing called nether-space.
    Nether-space does not exist in a way that we can fully understand. it is just an instrument that we use to explain the shuffling of the universes.
    Anyway…The universes are in a state of constant shuffling. What the space zipper does is help the space travelers craft to jump from one universe to another during the shuffline process, until it reaches a pre-determined coordinate that allows him to jump back into his own universe.
    You might compare this method of travel to the” merry go round” Once the space traveler begins hopping through universes, it is like he is getting on the spinning merry go round.. When he hops back off, he will be in a differant place than where he got on. What the space zipper does, is use the Space”Ripper” technology to enter a new demension or universe, and then let the Space Zipper computer, tell him when to get off.
    It works pretty good most of the time!

  10. If you want to keep it realistic (a.k.a. hard science fiction), you immediately must drop any notion of going faster than the speed of light. As far as current physics allows (and current, or near-term engineering for that matter), the speed of light IS a universal speed limit.
    So if you want to keep that boundary, there are a few ways to tackle space colonization. The most notable one is that if your ships travel relativistically (i.e., close to the speed of light… say 75% c, or 99% c, etc.), you run into time dilation effects (Google Relativistic Time Dilation). This essentially means that while it may take thousands of years for your space ship to reach a nearby star, the crew onboard will only feel as though it’s been 10 years or such. You’re still going to have extremely long time scales, but considerably less than without time dilation.
    As for how you get your spaceship up to such high speeds, there are a few options, such as nuclear pulse detonations, and fusion rockets. However neither of these options will get you to high enough velocities to really take advantage of relativistic time dilation (max speeds are derived from efficiencies… both of these methods give speeds ~10% c).
    Antimatter engines would yield 100% efficiency – however antimatter is prohibitively expensive to create… much to the point that to get highly relativistic space craft would cost trillions of trillions of dollars.
    My favorite idea is beamed laser propulsion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail. Basically you could have an earth-bound laser push on an ultralight mirror (the sail). Here you can get pretty high speeds due to the fact that the ship itself doesn’t need to weigh much because it carries none of it’s own fuel (unlike nearly all other methods, save for the impractical ram scoop idea). It could then use a magnetic sail to slow down upon reaching another star system. (Also, it could generate some conceivably beautiful space ships, with giant sails, etc.)
    So those are the ‘realistic’ ways of doing things. There are undoubtedly many others.
    As for cheating the speed of light – if you do decide to do it, do so vaguely. What I mean is that if you try to explain HOW you’re going faster than the speed of light, you’ll probably be annoying some physicists. Those works of fiction that get away with >c travel, do so because they don’t rely on existing technology, and don’t delve into the physics. Star Trek probably goes the most in depth, but it’s always as a plot device. It was only recently that people came up with “warp drive” ideas – but all inspired BY Star Trek. Star Wars just never tackles how they go faster than the speed of light, they just do. Stargate gets around it with wormholes created by aliens.

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