The last couple of months, I have been pouring over a lot of interesting videos about particle physics, quantum mechanics and specific videos about theory of relativity. I am not a science major and do not have any depth in mathematics, however there is no dearth of really good presenters on YouTube who make these complex theories easy to understand (if at all momentarily).
So what exciting nuggets did I glean from these videos? Well, I think Quantum Mechanics deals with the micro universe and particles. At the micro level particles behave very differently than we may expect. The latest discovery is that within the nucleus of an element there are tiny string like particles with unique properties. The property of the string determines the nature of the atom. So the science fiction buff in me suggests that once we have a good understanding of the various properties of the string, it throws open the possibility of having a Startrek like Replicator that can help eradicate hunger. It will give us the kind of power to make any type of matter at will. After all, everything in the physical universe is composed of atoms and if we know how to custom design an Atom, it solves the food problem in long distance space travel.
The other thing I gather is that gravity is spread over space like a mesh. It originates from objects and radiates outward. The model indicates that the fabric of space could be pulled together to join two distant points in space and thus create the famed worm hole. However, to do such a thing we may need vast amounts of energy so this is not feasible right now.
To reach the nearest star system, we need to travel at light speed or close to it. This means we need strong propulsion. We cannot afford to have heavy fuel. The solution seems to be to generate anti-matter. The Antimatter will react with matter and release tremendous energy. this energy can propel the craft. However, the problem is to first gather antimatter and then to store it. Since antimatter will detonate on coming in contact with matter, how do you store it? If a solution is found, we should be able to travel closer to the speed of light.
From what I understand, the General Theory of Relativity seems to suggest that time is relative. This means that if you are moving faster than another, you age slower than the other. Thus if we want to go to another star system, we need to be travelling at the speed of light to reach there in a life time. However, as the spacecraft leaves earth and accelerates, time slows down for the astronauts. If they reach their destination in 15 years and manage to come to a halt, then at that time, those they left behind in earth would be dead for more than a 1000 years.
So in conclusion, if we were to leave for another star system, we may as well kiss Earth good bye because by the time we return, humans would have evolved into something else and may view us as aliens.