Thursday, January 05, 2006

Travel to Scenic Mars: A 3-Hour Cruise

Why does this sound like something Gilligan and the Professor would cook up?

AN EXTRAORDINARY "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government.

The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine.

We could install the new hyperspace engine into a ship called the U.S.S. Minnow.

The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.

Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.

Of course, in real life there is a different outcome. We've watched enough old Twilight Zone episodes to know that when you switch off the engine you appear in an alternate dimension where everyone is really ugly and you are beautiful, but they think you are ugly because you are different, and they strap you to a hospital bed and prepare for plastic surgery. And you yell for help, and they just laugh at you because for some damn strange reason they speak English even better than you do.

The US air force has expressed an interest in the idea and scientists working for the American Department of Energy - which has a device known as the Z Machine that could generate the kind of magnetic fields required to drive the engine - say they may carry out a test if the theory withstands further scrutiny.

Professor Jochem Hauser, one of the scientists who put forward the idea, told The Scotsman that if everything went well a working engine could be tested in about five years.
He said the engine would enable spaceships to travel to different solar systems. "If the theory is correct then this is not science fiction, it is science fact," Prof Hauser said.

Well, you can't really argue the last statement. Since we are on the professor's side - we've always wanted to visit strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations - we wish them all the best of luck.

Better pack more than a light lunch.


Post a Comment

<< Home