Just like you, but different
Faster than the speed of Light, Planets and intelligence.
The closest star to Earth is a triple-star system called Alpha Centauri, about 4.35 light years away, or if you like 227 light weeks, or 1,559 light days.
The Space craft Voyager One, an actual spacecraft launched from Earth, is now at a light distance of 17 hours and 24 minutes from Earth. Not even a day away. Getting anywhere in the universe then somewhat improbable.
But that’s not what has been keeping me awake.
I’ve mused on why the night sky is not bright white, and that’s do do with the light from distance suns has not yet reached earth.
We’re all pretty aware of the assumption that you can’t go after than the speed of light. The science as I poorly understand it, is that you can’t accelerate to the speed of light owing a the maths indicating that you end up with an infinite mass, which is problematical. ‘Light’ does not have a mass, nor energy. It just is, it seems. Light is just electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye.
When you ponder the infinite emptiness of space you eventually get from ‘Why hasn’t the light from distance suns reached my eyes yet?’ to ‘How are those suns so far away?’
I’m not sure why but I’m back to the speed of light, which is measured as a universal physical constant of approximately 300,000 km/s – in a vacuum of course. The key is ‘in a vacuum’.
Then you get to the Big Bang, the rapid inflation of the universe from a singularity.
Since there was ‘nothing’ before the Big Bang it turns out that the universal laws and ‘rules’ can’ apply. It expanded faster than light.
Solved, time for a nap.
But back to getting somewhere in the universe, and let’s stick with Alpha Centauri B, which is a sun bigger than our own local one, and Proxima Centauri b the closest planet.
Le us just pretend that we discovered a way to accelerate (and stop) to 1,000 times the speed of light, or more, and we zoom off into the universe looking for any planet. We’ve done some homework and have a few candidate stars that may or may not have a planet I the ‘golden zone’ that may or may not have some kind of life-form. In the picture the furthest planet there is Neptune 4.5452 billion km from out Sun. Squint and you can see Earth.
So in our spaceship we’ve come across a star we think is a suitable size and we’re 5 billion kms away, looking fora planet. I’m pretty sure that the planets, if any, don’t line up nicely as they can in a graphic, but we have to make an observation and see if we can spot a planet, in the ‘golden zone’
By observation from Earth, we have discovered many suns, and planets like Proxima Centauri b. I’m not sure, however, where my planets is, if there is one, in its orbital earth around this new sun. It could be 1/2 of an orbit away, behind the sun, if you will, and I’d never see it.
Could I uncover any planet by detecting things that I familiar with, like Radio or TV signals ? Well yes, High-frequency, high-power broadcasts should be detectable, we do after all track Voyager One, and that’s 14.5 billion miles away from Earth. We’re well within that radius. I’d be reasonably sure that intelligence would understand frequencies and broadcasts, which assumes we’re looking for intelligent, or intelligence of life. Could be an uninhabited planet, could be uninhabitable.
So, assuming we found a planet, we then get to within 150 million kms of the Sun, into the same orbit of the planet. What next?
That we discovered Faster then light travel should possibly give you hope that we also figured out how to put a ‘landing craft’ into orbit, possibly land, and take off again from this planet, and return to the mother-ship. What could possibly go wrong?