Recently, when watching some Star Trek episode, one thought entered my mind and I could not get rid of it. Namely, how do people know each other in the age of space travel? The thought came from the fact that your every day space ship – such as Enterprise – must cover great distances in its travel. Distances which light covers in 1000 years for example. And this is pretty far away, as it means that light, before it comes to the viewer, needs 1000 years to cover the distance from the source.
Communication is first – how do you communicate with someone that far away? You cannot use light, which is (I think) the quickest, as that is way too slow. You send something, wait 1000 years for your message to get there, wait another 1000 years for the reply to come back. I am pretty sure that you will no longer be here nor will be your intended recipient. His house may no longer be there. Or his planet. So you need something which goes faster than light. Such communication would be held (almost) at real time relatively to your position. Is this at all possible?
Second, if you would like to travel there, you’d also need to travel with a speed greater than light, so that you could get there lets say within a year. Is that possible? Everyone I know says no. 1000 times faster than light? No way.
And this is the only way Star Trek could function. Otherwise how anyone in the Universe would know that captain Kirk exists? If they would travel slower than light, no one from original crew would survive the first trip. No adventures. No going beyond. The only going would to be to get into the ship. Someone totally different would debark, if anyone at all. In 1100 or even 1001 years a lot of things can happen to a ship. Well, maybe they could sleep, or hibernate. But if they do, their adventures are very boring.
And here is another funny thing: since all space maps are based on visible stars, most of them are so far away, that no one knows if they are really there NOW (well, some scientists can predict such things for the future with some accuracy). Enterprise, travelling faster than light, would see completely different sky or whatever you call it during those travels. They would operate in relative past, so to speak. They would need to base their destination coordinates on hope that those were there BEFORE light was sent in terms of position, not of existence. If Enterprise travels so fast and through so great distances, some differences in coordinates could mean a lot. You could end up in a middle of a star instead of next to it. That would not be pleasant.
Mind boggling, huh?