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Figure 9.7. High acceleration results in shorter Earth trip times.

Figure 9.7. High acceleration results in shorter Earth trip times.

exploration for both humans and machines is an anti-mass/inertia device counteracting the inertial forces produced by the acceleration. And the accelerations required are significant: Figure 9.7 shows the effect of increasing the acceleration of the spacecraft with respect to the Earth frame of reference. A nominal 2-year trip at conventional 1 ''g'' acceleration shrinks to a 1.7-hour trip at 10,000 ''g'', i.e., a reduction to one ten-millionth of the 2-year mission. With that shrinkage, the 30-year mission to the Galaxy center would take just 2.9 years! So the key to rapid travel to distant destination is not super-light speed, but super-fast accelerations. That requires the discovery of an anti-inertia/mass system to permit the human body and physical structures to withstand such accelerations and loads. At this time no one appears to have the energy source, anti-inertia or anti-gravity approach that would permit such accelerations or the flight speeds that approach light-speed. According to E. Mach, inertia is due to the mass present in the Universe (this is ''Mach's principle''): accelerating a mass would affect all other masses via changes in gravitational forces. If so, an inertial time lag should in principle be detected moving a mass fast enough for relativistic effects to take place. Such an experiment would be hard to perform, and, if successful, would rule out any chance of finding anti-inertia, or an inertia-less propulsion system. Experiments to check the Mach principle and a theory for the origin of inertia have been proposed by [Woodward, 2001, 2004]. Other theories have proposed that inertia is due to the interaction of any accelerating mass with vacuum energy [Yam, 1997; Rueda and Haisch, 1998]. An explanation of the Pioneers' anomaly based on inertia modification at large scales has been tested and seems to work [McCulloch, 2008]. Some results by Woodward seem to indicate his theoretical explanation may be right. As this explanation involves electromaget-ism, it would open the door to anti-inertia devices based on manipulating magnetic fields.

In summary, rapid transit to distant stars and galaxies would involve the spacecraft accelerating to light speed at very large values of acceleration, meaning quite beyond human or material limitations, unless mass/inertia was controlled and drastically reduced or eliminated. When so, the spacecraft would be disappearing from human sight. Almost "immediately", in terms of spacecraft clock, the spacecraft would reappear billions of kilometers away close to the target star or galaxy. During those moments when the spacecraft disappeared the spacecraft would have ''jumped'' over the so-called space-time continuum in an arching flight path. If the theories and postulates are correct, the maximum speed necessary to achieve is, at most, light-speed, and superluminal speeds would be of no time benefit.

If our Cosmos possess a greater spatial dimensionality than three-dimensional space (length, height and width) and one-dimensional time then a spacecraft will be able to ''soar'' above the time and space realm of existence and travel great distances in only the time required to accelerate to light speed and then decelerate from light speed to the target destination. The key requirement is to be able to achieve light speed and no greater. So there is hope that in some future time and place a space-faring civilization might learn to journey through space on round-trip journeys to further stars. In similar vein, if our Universe has extra dimensions, as posited by strings theory, Drs. Richard Obousy and Gerald Cleaver at Baylor University, Texas, claim [Obousy and Cleaver, 2007, 2008] that manipulating the 11th dimension in the so-called m-theory (a development of strings theory), the cosmo-logical constant could be made to change locally by using the Casimir effect, forcing space to ''warp'' (i.e., to contract in front of a spaceship and expand behind it; this is the idea originally put forward by the physicist Michael Alcubierre). A ship inside the warped space ''bubble'' would not move (and would not violate the c limit): instead, space would stream by at a speed depending on ''warp'' intensity. Since there is no relativistic constraint on the expansion speed of space-time, the ship could arrive at its destination much faster than a light beam connecting the departure and arrival points. Calculations indicate that a 1,000 m3 warp bubble would need about 1028 kg of annihilating matter-antimatter to form. At the same time, the spacestreaming speed would be orders of magnitude larger than c. In fact, for the limit value for the cosmological constant (1040 Hz), the energy required to form the bubble would increase to 1099 kg of matter-antimatter, but the space-streaming speed would become 1032c: the entire Universe could be crossed in 10~15 s. If these astounding numbers can be taken seriously into consideration, in the far future higher dimensionality may be the true key to fast interstellar travel. If this greater dimensionality does not exist, the stupendous gulf of cosmic space appears to be an insurmountable barrier that can never be overcome.

There is a final question that may leave little room for doubting this pessimistic remark. Quantum mechanics entanglement is an ''... observed phenomenon where a physical property of a particle (or even a larger system) becomes instantly dependent on the properties that are being measured on another particle, regardless of how far apart the particles are'' [Rudolph, 2008]. While entanglement does not involve matter motion, it still seems to violate the spirit of the relativistic c limit. In [Salart et al., 2008] the upper bound for the speed at which this phenomenon occurs has been estimated to be at least of the order of 104c to 105c. What is at the heart of this ''spooky action at a distance'', as Einstein called it, is still a mystery that surely may foster hopes that at some point the c barrier may be overcome.

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