Friday, February 19, 2010

Warp speed would kill Kirk and his cronies in an instant

Warp speed would kill Kirk and his cronies in an instant

Those pesky scientists. Now they've gone and ruined our whole Star Trek fantasy, telling us that when the Starship Enterprise is traveling at the speed of light or faster,"hydrogen atoms are unavoidable space mines," probably taking a second or less to kill Captain Kirk, Bones, Spock and all the others. Ouch.

Professor William Edelstein of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is the guy who hasn't quite suspended his disbelief with warp drive, explaining that even though interstellar space is populated with just two hydrogen atoms per cubic centimeter, that terrific speed would multiply the number of those atoms encountering a spacecraft. As that spacecraft reached 99.999998% the speed of light, says the party-pooping professor:

"Hydrogen atoms would seem to reach a staggering 7 teraelectron volts", which for the crew "would be like standing in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam".

You mean all that Star Trek tech isn't possible? Some of it is. Of course, the Starship Enterprise is made of spectacular futuristic materials that can fend off any sort of space junk, especially those puny hydrogen atoms. And the computers they have in there, well, they can probably calculate the location of every hydrogen atom in the universe, easily avoiding them. Technology overcomes all.