The Solution for Interstellar Travel

Tackling the Limitations of Space-Time Compression


Interstellar travel is the greatest technical challenge the human race has ever faced. For generations it has inspired countless authors and readers alike. Like many of you I found myself inspired by Star Trek (CBS/Paramount) and Star Wars (Disney). I imagined the human species as an interstellar civilization and I had that child’s dream that my generation would be the generation that saw it happen. Of course, things haven’t exactly gone according to that plan.

I would like to preface the rest of this by saying that I’m not a physics professional. I don’t have a Ph. D. or even a degree relating to the field. I am a thinker and sometimes I fancy myself a writer. I happen to enjoy theoretical physics as a hobby. I believe nearly all the pieces are there already and the big trouble with interstellar travel is that no one has put them together.

What ultimately limits the maximum speed in which any object can travel? The quick answer might be energy, but that is a fallacy. No amount of energy in the universe will allow any object with mass to reach the speed of light, let alone surpass it. That is a (if not the) basic premise of special relativity. We know this as fact. It is both mathematically proven and empirically observed. The cause hasn’t been given enough thought, however.

Going forward from this point I will be talking about my hypothesis on the mechanics of interstellar travel and why current theories will not possibly work. I expect that it will anger anyone attached to those theories.

Too bad. Come up with something better and prove me wrong.

Much of this is built on the back of the Holographic Principle and M-Theory. This of course includes quantum physics, string theory, and General/Special Relativity. The rest started from my runaway imagination and snowballed from there. You see, this started as a mental exercise in imagining a realistic faster than light drive for a science-fiction novel (that is far from finished). The result is the un-warp drive. That is not its official name, but it embodies the principle.

The darling of interstellar travel thinking right now is the Alcubierre Drive. It’s elegant, it’s just like our Star Trek (CBS/Paramount) dreams, and it’s completely wrong.

It requires two impossible things: a ring of stabilized negative mass and the expansion of space-time behind the craft. It requires other things, of course. Those are just the impossible ones. The problem is time. It’s called Space-Time for a reason. The second will require some deeper explanation, but the first can be summarized quickly. Positive mass must exist in a positive flow of time. Negative mass must exist in a negative flow of time. In other words, negative mass travels backwards in time from our frame of reference.

As much as I loved them, tachyons had to go. As far as this hypothesis goes, tachyons and negative mass particles are the same thing.

The basic premise is that the three-dimensional universe as we know it is made up of effectively infinite two-dimensional “slices” of space-time. But that’s the holographic principle, you might say. And you would be correct. Inertia and relativistic effects are caused by the compression of these two-dimensional membranes (m-theory anyone?). As the level of compression increases it acts as a drag on changing inertia. At some point the rate of compression equalizes with the density of energy an object is using to accelerate. This results in a terminal velocity relative to a stationary point. I say relative because for the subject still putting in the energy acceleration is still occurring, but the compression causes the relativistic effects we lovingly know as time dilation.

To be a successful interstellar spacecraft it needs to deal with this compression. If you un-warp space around you the terminal velocity rises. The localized decompression field would actually raise the speed of light within it.

Before I get into the reasons I went down this path I’ll give you the juicy speculation. The basic design of the interstellar drive system.

  • Step 1: Have a ridiculously powerful linear accelerator.
  • Step 2: Put matter on one end and anti-matter on the other.
  • Step 3: Accelerate both particles to terminal velocity.
  • Step 4: The two annihilate.
  • Step 5: Both particles were dragging space-time and as such space-time will suddenly rebound and tear into a micro-hole (not a black hole!)
  • Step 6: negative mass pours out of the micro tear and temporarily occupies the compressed space-time.
  • Step 7: As the negative mass spreads it nullifies the space-time warp caused by relativistic mass of the vessel.
  • Step 8: The negative mass quickly takes its leave of the known universe and back to a place where the flow of time is inverted.
  • Step 9: Use the space-time disturbances caused by the exiting negative mass to propel the craft forward.
  • Step 10: Enjoy the side affect of having your inertia reduced (relativistic mass and inertia are the same thing).

Before you get all excited about this drive there are some problems with it. The computational power required to keep navigation possible will likely require a massive breakthrough in quantum computing. Worse, if the drive failed the ship and all matter in it would likely collapse into a singularity in an instant. Yeah, don’t hit that e-brake. There is the issue of the fuel source as well. Anti-matter is the most valuable substance in the world.

The important supposition here is that inertia/relativistic mass are a result of space-time compression. Nullifying the compression with the decompression caused by negative mass would be the key to allowing an object to surpass its normal terminal velocity.

Unfortunately with this drive you can forget about true artificial gravity. A localized gravity field would disrupt the nullification process. It would be like dropping anchor after raising the sails. Rotational gravity is probably the best choice for this design.

So, I enjoyed that speculation. I hope you did too. The thoughts that follow are less speculative and more about the hypothesis.

What little evidence I really have, other than that it all seems to fit nicely, is in the math. I won’t include the equations here as this is not a peer-reviewed article. For the people that really want to scrutinize those equations are out there already. The big math here is that inertia, relativistic mass, and time dilation are all really derivatives of the same numbers. In other words, knowing one will give you the solution to the others.

Going forward I will be publishing more about my little view of the universe. This is really just an introduction to my ideas. I want to challenge anyone with the know-how to turn these ideas into something viable. The truth will be found in the math. These ideas are your origin point, but not the whole solution.

In my next blog I will focus specifically on time as a force.