Beyond Star Trek: physics from alien invasions to the end of by Lawrence M. Krauss

By Lawrence M. Krauss

Lawrence Krauss takes a provocative examine how the legislation of physics relate to notions from our pop culture - not just famous person Trek, yet different motion pictures, exhibits, and renowned lore - from Independence Day to megastar Wars to The X-Files. sign up for him on a enjoyable, mind-bending trip throughout the nature of alien visitation, interstellar commute - together with the very most up-to-date on warp-drive platforms - time, realization, ESP, the likelihood of different existence within the universe, and quantum fact.

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And there are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, while the Milky Way is just one of over ioo billion galaxies in the observable universe. At the very least, it is clear that to travel beyond our solar system on a human timescale, we would have to reach speeds much greater than are possible now. To appreciate the magnitude of the problem, let's consider the onboard fuel requirements just to accelerate a spacecraft to 25 percent the speed of light, at which rate a one-way trip to Alpha Centauri would take a mere 10 years.

After all, if the antihydrogen atoms hit the walls of a container made of normal matter, they can annihilate with the protons and electrons in the walls. Charged antimatter is simple to confine in a box without having it come in contact with the walls. Charged particles (antiprotons, say) move in circles when put in a magnetic field, so they can be confined in what is called a magnetic bottle—a torus, or doughnut-shaped ring, with a magnetic field inside that keeps the particles traveling in a circle around the center of the torus, away from the walls.

As this final, cruising velocity begins to exceed the speed of the propellant, things get unwieldy. Increasing the final velocity of a rocket from 1 to 2 times the speed of the propellant out the back requires 4 times as much fuel. But increasing the final speed to 4 times that with which the propellant leaves the ship will increase the required amount of fuel by a factor of more than 30! 22 THEY'LL BE COMIN' ROUND THE MOUNTAIN . . In this case, the initial mass of the ship plus fuel would be about 55 times the mass of the ship without fuel.

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