In the last few years, astronomers have learned a lot about the universe, all thanks to radio telescopes and satellites that can catch radiation, such as X-rays, which our atmosphere absorbs so it’s impossible to study from the surface of the Earth.
We know objects such as quasars, pulsars, black holes, and so on. To get very close to them is deadly, but we could get closer to them a little more, and that does not bother us.
The first thought that can give little hope to man is that the distance can be reduced by the advancement of technology. The astronauts took three days to reach the moon, and that distance was about 9.5 times the size of the Earth. The average speed of the first astronauts was therefore 3,500 times the speed at which people bypassed the entire country by boat.
Would not the advancement of technology increase the speed of our interstellar spacecraft by 3,500 times in relation to the speeds achieved in the Apollo program?
The arrival of the Moon in three days means that the average speed of the Moon’s advance is 1.5 km / s. When we increase it by 3,500 times, we can imagine traveling at an average speed of 5,250 km / s. At such speed, it would still take 250 years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.
If we increase the speed by another 3,500 times, we will move somewhat faster than 18,000,000 km / s. Then we will only need four weeks to get to the Alpha Centauri.
Unfortunately, this is unachievable. Albert Einstein in 1905 he presented his special theory of relativity, according to which it is impossible to move anything faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. This theory has been checked several times, in several ways and proved to be accurate and unmistakable. No physicist expects that he will experience the overcoming of the spee d of light.
If this is true, this means that the highest speed that a single space ship will travel is 299,792.5 km / s. and at that speed it would take 4.3 years to get to the nearest star, 30,000 years to the center of our galaxy, 300,000 years to go around, 2.3 million years to reach the Andromeda Galaxy, 1,000,000,000 years to get to the nearest quasar, 10,000,000 to the most distant quasar, and possibly 40 billion to bypass the Universe!
Some who do not understand physics, think that somehow people will find a way to break through the light barrier. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Isaac Asimov in the book “Earth and Space Survey” explains how the acceleration increases the energy of motion or kinetic energy. But this energy includes two factors: speed and mass. At low speeds, almost the entire increase in energy is converted to speed, so the object moves faster and faster, while the mass receives only a small inconspicuous quantity. But as speed increases, the less and less the additional increase in kinetic energy goes to speed, and more and more on the mass. By approaching the speed of light, almost the entire increase in kinetic energy goes to the mass, so that the mass becomes larger and larger, while the speed almost does not change. The increase in the strength of the rocket engine will only increase the mass to infinity more and more, and it will never be enough to affect the speed to break through the light barrier.
The special theory of relativity is worth the objects we know. Objects with mass, such as humans or spacecraft, can travel at any speed (in theory) from zero to speed to light. Objects without mass, such as light waves, can travel in a vacuum only at the speed of light – neither slower nor faster.