Archive for the ‘wormholes’ Tag

Otherworldly   Leave a comment

trappist-7Trappist-1 System – NASA

By now, everyone’s heard the news – there’s seven new planets to consider in the universe. We’ve all read the headlines. Seven lovely orbs holding potential for life, only a mere 40 light years away! Why, that’s practically next door! And some of them hold the potential for life? Incredible.

While it’s nice to consider that we have an escape plan  to another world, it’s kind of unreasonable to expect to get to any one of these places anytime soon. Sure, we’re all expecting to hop on a space ship in the next couple of dozen years and arrive at planet du jour within a Einstein’s calculated period. And Lord knows that the folks behind Prometheus  practically guarantee travel to new Edens (although not without some pesky grey, hissing creatures with a penchant for sucking people’s innards and faces).

Are there wormholes to get us to these places quicker? Could be. Interstellar makes an excellent argument for that. If those wormholes do exist, the common folk won’t hear about them, at least not yet. Existing in theory and written about aplenty, I’ve no doubt these gateways to universal superhighways are around somewhere.

How then, is it possible to construct a vehicle to travel within the confines of a wormhole? Sure, we can throw a ship together – that’s the easy part. I’m wondering how a ship might be able to withstand whatever that wormhole throws at it – pressure gradients, temperature, forces binding the wormhole together. Or suppose the wormhole is a perpetual vortex that leads to nothingness? Once trapped inside, the travelers can’t break free and are subjected to extremes not even imagined?

Could there be different categories of wormholes? There must be. Just as there’s different types of highways, roads and streets, wormholes have characteristics. Some may be dead ends, short jaunts or long, winding roads. There could be ones that have celestial potholes, breaks, connect at junctions or turn back on themselves.

Suppose we do discover a wormhole in the neighborhood of Jupiter, as mentioned in Interstellar. Do we send our best and brightest through it just to see what happens? Do we travel to the unknown hoping to reap the benefits of what other places and methods of navigation can teach us? How do we steer our crafts, once caught in a wormhole if we don’t fully understand what they are in the first place? What is speculation and reality? Or will time trick us to believe there is a light at the end of the wormhole, only to find out we’re no longer able to function because of the forces of the universe bearing down on us? If we’re not able to return to Earth, what good is the journey to begin with?

Eventually, some intrepid group of astronauts will go forth to see what’s out there. We may never hear from them again. But they might find another system such as Trappist-1, and create a world that no citizen of Earth may ever be so fortunate to imagine.

Interstellar, of Course…   Leave a comment

interstellar.black_.hole

Credit: “Interstellar” Media Image – mashable.com

Yes, I’ll admit I’m a geek.  I married one, too.  So of course we felt it necessary to see “Interstellar.”  We read up on it, exchanged speculations on the theories behind it, compared different viewpoints, opinions, reviews, all of that.  After all of this effort, a sensible decision was cast to go and see it, already.

So last night, after first ducking into Target to purchase some chocolates to stick into our pockets so we wouldn’t have to pay the ridiculous price of $4.oo for a $1.oo candy bar, we went.  It was great to go into a theatre filled with our kinds of people, equally geeky and completely silent during the showing, with only the rare murmur of approval over a spectacular scene.

Naturally, we weren’t disappointed.  Both of us loved it and spent the ride home discussing it.  And I could go on about this, that or the other thing regarding the vagaries of space-time travel and the physics behind it.

Why would I?  You know all that anyway.

What got me were the small touches, the little hints of things to come and viewpoints either behind the characters or the writers who invented them.  First on my list were the books on the shelves in Murph’s bedroom.  How many of you took a good look at them?  Here’s two that caught my immediate attention:  “The Stand” and “Outlander.”

“Outlander” caught my eye because Diana Gabaldon wrote this book regarding a portal that transports a woman through time, and Stephen King’s “The Stand” because the human race is nearly killed off in that one.  Both of those elements were the story in “Interstellar.”

Actually, books do figure prominently in the movie.  Take, for example, the school district’s reliance on “corrected versions” of history.  The moonwalk was all propaganda to economically bankrupt the Soviet Union.  After all, the Soviets never made it to the moon, so that propaganda campaign must have worked.  Yet Murph refuses to believe it all and listens to her father, who reinforces the truth.

All that talk about chemical compositions and how it affects environments and circumstances also gave me the goosies.  The way how too much nitrogen in an atmosphere isn’t ideal or any atmosphere’s makeup is so sensitive to various forms of life made me smile.

But really, when you get right down to it, the use of time as a resource and element defined the film.  Everything from the father Cooper as a younger man visiting his daughter Cooper as she lay dying, much older than he (all right, how many of you also knew that was Ellen Burstyn?), to the astronaut left behind for 23 years when Brand and Cooper seemed to be gone only minutes?  Or the gradual shift of Earth from viable to slowly dying, which seemed to take both an interminable and finite amount of time?

I could go on about many, many more things about why we enjoyed “Interstellar” so much, but that would take time, so if you haven’t seen it, take the time and go!

Worming One’s Way Through Space   Leave a comment

What’s your preferred method of space travel?  Is it this?

ds^2= - c^2 dt^2 + dl^2 + (k^2 + l^2)(d \theta^2 + \sin^2 \theta \, d\phi^2).

Or this?

ds^2= - c^2 \left(1 - \frac{2GM}{rc^2}\right)dt^2 + \frac{dr^2}{1 - \frac{2GM}{rc^2}} + r^2(d \theta^2 + \sin^2 \theta \, d\phi^2).

I know, I know.  Pretty hard to decide which one to choose.

Allow me to provide you with a clearer example.   This is a depiction of the first equation:

Wurmloch

CorvinZahn – Gallery of Space Time Travel (self-made, panorama of the dunes: Philippe E. Hurbain)

This is the second:

220px-LorentzianWormhole

Credit: Allen McC

Give up?  Here’s a clue:  There’s a connection between this:

10418463_10154337998890603_349570926636102332_n

…and the space it occupies.

And the answer is…WORMHOLES!

Okay, okay, maybe I’ve gotten a bit esoteric for you.  I’ll get simple.

The first mathematical equation is otherwise known as traversable wormhole, or one that allows you to move from one end of the universe to the other.  The second one represents a Schwartschild wormhole that, for the most part, is a black hole that allows travel usually in one direction, but also connects one universe to the other.

The definition of a wormhole is a method within the theory of relatively of moving from one point in space to another without crossing the space in between.  To properly explain a wormhole properly means one has to drag out the big guns (i.e. Einstein) and spew forth a lot of verbiage that’s guaranteed to gloss over the heartiest of eyeballs.  A short history of the term is this: Albert Einstein and his colleague  Nathan Rosen came up with the basic principles of wormholes and their relation to time and space in the 1935 and called their concept the “Einstein-Rosen” bridge.  John A. Wheeler, an American theoretical physicist coined the term wormhole in 1957.

Science fiction writers have jumped on the concept ever since.  Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, Iain M. Banks, John G. Cramer, Stephen Baxter and many, many others have all used wormhole technology to develop their plots, as well as popular shows as the Stargate franchise.

With wormholes, one easily solves the problem of traveling great distances in short times, as long as you don’t exceed the speed of light (a wormhole no-no).  Just about anything can travel through them as well.  The mightiest of space vehicles right down to tiny gnats can zoom through distant reaches to discover, conquer or just make new friends.  It’s a simple device that captures everyone’s imagination because it’s so freeing and limitless.  Need to get someplace?  Hook up to a wormhole, and in seconds, you’re there.

In Stargate SG-1, the cast would travel so quickly through these things that bullets came flying right out of the gate, thanks to the wormhole.  Conversely, robotic probes made their way out into the new planet, seeking information regarding conditions.  True, a proper stargate was needed to connect two points together.  It wasn’t without its risks, either.  Wormholes invite all sorts of malfeasance, if one isn’t careful.  Evil characters often took advantage of this plot device and wreaked havoc, threatening Earth and its inhabitants over and over again.

Next time you look up at the sky and gaze at the stars, think about this: somewhere out there lurks a bridge to another time.  One day, maybe soon, some thing might be transversing it to visit.

 

 

The Plot Thickens   2 comments

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Image: Lynette Cook, NASA

There’s a brisk business in the sci-fi fiction world wherein writers devise plots regarding worlds thousands of millions of light years yonder, only reachable by wormholes or imagination.  At the same time, astronomers here on earth keep their eyes stuck to their favorite observing instrument of choice seeking out new planets, and, because there appears to be an obvious lack of wormholes (or so I believe; I could be wrong), they use their imaginations to conceive images of what these new worlds would look like.

On Independence Day, I sat on the porch of my parents’ house (so hard still to visit and not see my mother there) and flipped through the offerings on Endgadget.  A posted article entitled, “The first potentially habitable alien planets we ever found – might not actually exist,” written by Richard Lawler caught my attention.  In it, he writes about Gliese 581g, a planet orbiting Gliese 581, a star located in the constellation Libra.  What made Gliese 581g so intriguing is its location in the “Goldilocks zone,” so called because it’s the correct distance from its sun to possess a moderate temperature for liquid water – not too hot or cold.  It had also been determined that the planet didn’t spin on its axis and one side was perpetually in the dark.  Artists created imaginative drawings, dreaming up visions of what this planet could look like.

Alas, it appears to have been all for naught.  Spectrographic readings taken from Gliese 581 now indicate that 581g might actually not exist.  How is that possible?  The short answer is that the very signals that determined a planet might be located in a particular place also can be attributed to another source, say, “space stuff.”  What would have produced a signal for the spectrometer to read no longer exists.  It faded.  Disappeared.  Or, alternatively, may have been misread.

What a delicious idea for a plot.

Take it from the 581g’s point of view.  Of course, that wouldn’t be the name of the planet.  In my head, it’d be more like Ulele or Onodon – a whispery moniker reminiscent of mystery and exotica.  For millennia the habitants, fiercely protective of their unique home, shrouded their visibility because of a unique feature Ulele/Onodon hosts.  A signal accidentally launched by a careless Uleleian/Onodonite as it lit its cigarette on a rations replenish break, triggers a spectrograph that sits in the Earth lab of Dr. Jill Jackson, a red-headed ball of fire pouncing on a grand opportunity to stake her position as the sharpest astrophysicist in the universe.  Having maxed out her credit cards and on the brink of credit collapse, she aims for the Nobel Prize and its generous financial reward and reveals her discovery to fellow scientists.  Unbeknownst to her, the Ulele/Onodons are hot on her trail, thanks to sensitive instruments tuned to the merest hint of detective devices such as the one Dr. Jackson uses, and seek revenge…but not before re-cloaking their planet.  Vowing to hunt her down like an unwanted cockroach in a Harlem apartment, Ulele/Onodon Fowler Falx is hot on her trail, and won’t stop until she’s obliterated and vanishes from view…just like 581g.

See, that explanation is much more entertaining than, “We thought we saw something…honest!…but it just…disappeared.  Or, a similar incident as detailed above really happened and no one will admit it, because as any watcher of any sci-fi series involving space generally hide evidence regarding alien encounters.  Since the jury is out on aliens’ actual existence, I’d like to seize this celestial development and give it a life, thicken its plot and give it hope for the future.

Keep your eyes to the skies, folks.  The universe is filled with enigmas.

 

Stargate Sojourn   Leave a comment

All right.  I’ll confess. I was a diehard Stargate SG-1 fan.  Not so much Stargate Atlantis, although I adored Rodney McKay.  There was nothing false about him; he met at the intersection of reckless bravery and shameless coward.  And Stargate Universe?  Highly underrated.  It wasn’t as lighthearted as the other two, but it made you think.  I’m also a fan of Robert Carlyle.  

I digress.  Back to SG-1.

All the cast members on that show shared a real chemistry, and it could be serious and funny at the same time.  The gate spun as if a Wheel of Fortune, upon which the SG-1 team gambled their fates each time with each threshold crossing.  Stepping into that endless whirling stream of psychedelic colors gave Jack, Sam, Teal’c, Dan and and whoever else they dragged along, the appearance of  a magic tunnel ride, forever in length. Yet, when they came out on the other side, it was as if they were out for a Sunday stroll, only two seconds later, if that.  Okay, they were armed to the teeth and occasionally they’d have to dodge flying missiles, unknown assailants, and, of course, those pesky Goa’uld.    

Now it’s time to go home.  Either Jack’s gang saved the day or got the hell out.  They’d go flying back, hurling their bodies through the stargate once more, fighting against all odds to dial the correct address to open that slurpy rush of wormhole matter.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but it wasn’t entirely unheard of to have alien weaponry zing through that very wormhole.  And again, traveling that eternal length of wormhole only took, what, two seconds on the return trip.  Hmm.

So tell me: how’s that possible?  Do wormholes stretch and contract?  Now, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to leap through one of those and find out for myself, although it is on my bucket list.  I am of the opinion that wormholes are a function of time meeting distance.  Sort of like pulling the middle of a length of chain, and the ends become closer.  Time is the chain, in this instance.  Yes, I know, the chain is the same length, but suppose there was a way to skip across from one end to its opposite?

The stargate connected to other stargates in the universe, offering limitless opportunities for adventure.  And convenience.  Take, for example, who taught all those off-world races to speak English so beautifully?  Was one of the Ancients, say, a past life of Noah Webster?  Their history, beautifully preserved in the pyramids of Egypt, could have traveled through those wormholes and planted the seeds of English to the ancient Saxons.  Ancients pierced the mind of Earthly citizens everywhere, giving rise to English’s seeming dominance throughout the globe.  Bilingualism is an Ancient trait.

When I’m stuck at my desk, going adrift staring at the pile resting on it, I long to take a journey through a stargate.  Perhaps one day on lunch break, during a mind-clearing stroll through the park, fluttering leaves in the woods might attract my attention.  A bend of branches in a peculiar manner carves a path to a smoldering circle, holding open its gate to unknown possibilities, as vast as space.

I wouldn’t say no.  I’d go.

Posted February 26, 2014 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi TV Shows

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