I just watched a documentary on the History Channel about light speed, and it blew my mind, basically. And it reminded me of two books I've read, and also reminded me just how ridiculously cool science fiction is. Not to mention, I've just started to plot out a new science fiction book of my own.
Anyway, the most interesting part about the documentary was the possiblities it presented for space travel. Really, it said that the amount of energy required to move at the speed of light is infinite, so therefore, it would be impossible to move that fast, although scientists have been able to send particles close to that speed. And, according to Einstein, it's impossible to move any faster than light speed, as put forth by his theory of relativity. Now, I'm not going to pretend like I understand even the slightest bit of the theory of relativity at all...I'm a very curious person, but I always feel like scientists take the excitement out of discovery by giving things these long, boring names (like one of the galaxies they talked about didn't even have a name, just a combination of letters and numbers) and attaching all these weird numbers and equations to them. Now I'm rambling. The point though, is that light bends around objects and space and time are "stretchy", and furthermore, if a person traveling at lightspeed were to run in circles around a person who is in normal human time, the person in the middle would age much faster than the person in lightspeed. Which is exactly what the scientist who got sent to planet Treason in the book "Treason" by Orson Scott Card must have figured out, because all of his descendents were able to control their own personal times to speed up or slow down according to their own will power, so could make a moment last for years or spend many years in one moment. Although, I think that the fast moving people aged faster in the book, because they were spending their own personal allotted time. I'm not sure how that worked exactly. But, I can say that "Treason" is a surprisingly good read, if you can get past the weirdness of the main character and how his body starts growing extra parts. Which, I'm still reading the book on characterization that I mentioned in my last post, but Card did mention in the section that talked about how main characters are often the reflection of the author, that he wrote a book and one of his friends that read it commented: "Wow, you must really hate your body." And he said that it was true that he did have a negative view on his own body which translated into, I think, this story about a boy who can't control the fact that his genes have hardwired him into becoming a many-limbed monster, hated by his father, the king. It's a pretty good story, even though I've just realized that apparently the time idea works just the opposite of the way it really would in real life. But that's fiction for you!
Alright, I've got more to say on this lightspeed topic, but I want a break in this post, otherwise, it'll be too long. In Part II, however, I'm going to talk about one of my all-time favorites, "A Wrinkle in Time," which also has a lot to do with space travel.