Sunday, 30 September 2012

SF or Science fact? - Stephen Hawking

 Stephen Hawking
Don't you just love it when fiction has an element of truth embedded in it even if you have to stretch your imagination a little! While I was looking into time travel in preparation for writing a scifaiku poem imagine my excitement when I came across an article by the good professor about time travel parts of which I have reproduced below. If you want to read the full article click on the following link or copy and paste into your browser.

The beauty of the article is the way in which it is 'presented'. The conversational tone, simplicity of the explanation and analogies are excellent. He begins by describing four dimensions:-

Hawking uses the example of driving in your car: You go forward. That's one direction. You turn left or right, that's a second. You journey up a mountain road, that's a third. The fourth dimension is time. 

He then goes on to describe not one, but three, theoretically realistic ideas for travelling through time, one of which he says is even practical. He describes Quantum Foam and Wormholes

Time as a flowing river; 

"Time flows like a river and it seems as if each of us is carried relentlessly along by time's current. But time is like a river in another way. It flows at different speeds in different places and that is the key to traveling into the future," Hawking writes. Albert Einstein first proposed this idea 100 years ago that there should be places where time slows down, and others where time speeds up, notes Hawking. "He was absolutely right." The proof, says Hawking, lies in the Global Positioning System satellite network, which in addition to helping us navigate on Earth, reveals that time runs faster in space.
"Inside each spacecraft is a very precise clock. But despite being so accurate, they all gain around a third of a billionth of a second every day. The system has to correct for the drift, otherwise that tiny difference would upset the whole system, causing every GPS device on Earth to go out by about six miles a day," Hawking writes.
(I never thought they were that good anyway!)
The clocks aren't faulty -- it's the pull of Earth that's to blame.
"Einstein realized that matter drags on time and slows it down like the slow part of a river. The heavier the object, the more it drags on time," Hawking writes. "And this startling reality is what opens the door to the possibility of time travel to the future."

Black holes and travelling at the speed of light

WarpshipA warpship!

Speed of light protection. 

This happens to protect the cosmic speed limit, Hawking said. Here's why:
Say there's a child running forward up the train. "Her forward speed is added to the speed of the train, so couldn't she break the speed limit simply by accident? The answer is no," writes Hawking. "The laws of nature prevent the possibility by slowing down time on-board  Now she can't run fast enough to break the limit. Time will always slow down just enough to protect the speed limit."
This is the essence of why time travel into the future is possible.

All fascinating stuff. If I hadn't told you that this was factual and published in the Daily Mail you could be forgiven for believing that I'd produced extracts from my new SF novel! A wealth of information for the SF writer that would add a grain of factual possibility into  fantastic stories from one of the world's leading thinkers in cosmology. But the writing style is clarity itself.

God Bless