Is the Government Hiding Speed Of Light Travel? | Unveiled
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
The speed of light secret! Join us, and find out more!
In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at the possibility of traveling at the speed of light! Perhaps more than any other target in physics, this is the one that scientists really want to achieve! But there are some theories that, actually, we can ALREADY travel at light speed... it's just that the rest of the world doesn't know it yet!
Is The Government Hiding Speed of Light Travel?
The speed of light through a vacuum is the universal constant. It’s the fastest thing there is, and vital for studying outer space. It’s also unique, in that at lightspeed, time stands still. As far as we know, only massless particles, like photons, can achieve it… but could a secret speed-of-light travel for objects with mass have already been discovered?
This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question: is the government hiding speed-of-light travel?
Understanding light is vital for understanding current physics. It was in trying to fathom how light functioned that Albert Einstein went on to develop his theories of relativity, all of which depend on the constant speed of light to make sense. But though light is certainly the absolute fastest thing in the universe, traveling at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, it’s still pretty slow relative to the size of the universe itself. The nearest galaxy to the Milky Way, Andromeda, is still 2.5 million lightyears away from us, meaning that even at the speed of light, a journey to Andromeda would still take 2.5 million years to complete. Of course, our current spacecraft can’t go anywhere near that fast, so such a trip would take even longer for us to actually undertake. We definitely need to increase the speed we’re capable of traveling at if we ever want to become an advanced, space-faring civilization.
Reaching, or more commonly, exceeding, the speed of light, is a popular trope in science-fiction. It’s a necessary inaccuracy to enable the story to actually move to alien worlds and galaxies at a reasonable rate. Without the ability to travel that quickly, we need to resort to other solutions, like temporal stasis or cryogenic pods, to keep passengers frozen for extremely long periods of time. Otherwise, we’re doomed to have generations of humans live and die on large spacecrafts, hundreds or even thousands of years before ever arriving on an alien world. So, technology that IS capable of mastering lightspeed would be revolutionary for the future of humankind. It would take astronauts roughly seven months to reach Mars with current technology, a journey that exposes them to mental illness, physical degradation in microgravity, and dangerous radiation. But Mars is only about 12 and a half light minutes away from us on Earth on average. At the speed of light, the commute to Mars would be completely trivial, with people able to go there and come back many times a day. Even distant Pluto would be within reach, with an average journey time of five and a half hours at lightspeed – roughly the same as an airplane flight from New York to Los Angeles. Even more spectacular, the distance between the Earth and the moon is just 1.3 light seconds; that’s how long it would take to reach the lunar surface at lightspeed. You’d almost be teleporting from here to there.
So, you can begin to see why reaching the speed of light, let alone going faster than light, is so coveted. It would allow humans to build on other moons and planets extremely easily, with commutes between Earth, Titan, and Europa clocking in at around an hour. This means it would be easy not only to build and send humans there, but also resupply even the most distant outposts. At current speeds, outposts would need to be able to produce food locally because of the long journey times from Earth. If we could eliminate these needs, we’d have full dominion over the solar system.
So, if the technology is so revolutionary, why, if it existed, would the government want to hide it? Well, there are a few reasons. First, it might just be far too difficult to be viable as a major method of transportation. The problem with the speed of light is that it’s the upper limit of speed for massless particles, kind of. A particle with mass COULD, in theory, travel at the speed of light, but the inert mass, or “rest” mass, of any object, increases with acceleration. When you’re traveling at the speed of light, you’re going so fast that time stands still, and your rest mass reaches infinity. The only reason photons and other waves are able to reach the speed of light is that they don’t contain any mass at all, and they also don’t accelerate; photons are always traveling at the speed of light. For anything else, though, infinite mass would require infinite fuel in order to maintain its acceleration, which is the big problem. An infinite fuel source on an enclosed spacecraft would be impossible. Even black holes don’t truly have infinite mass. The singularity at the center of a black hole is infinitely dense; but that’s not quite the same thing. So we couldn’t even utilize black hole physics - in some other, far future time - as a serious route toward achieving infinite mass in our speed-of-light engine. And remember, this is still all to travel just AT the speed of light, we haven’t yet touched on going faster.
Perhaps the only plausible solution would be to create a warp drive. There has been considerable debate, but some kinds of warp drives might be consistent with the laws of physics. In 1994, the theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed his version of a warp drive, based on a solution to Einstein’s field equations. In an Alcubierre drive, a ‘bubble’ of spacetime is created around the craft, which enables it to bend time and space around itself, meaning it goes faster from point A to point B than the speed of light would. Because the craft itself is contained in this ‘bubble’, the speed of light is not exceeded locally. If it’s possible to bend spacetime to exceed the speed of light, it’s possible to do it to simply approach the speed of light, too. Of course, deceleration is another issue. It would be extremely easy to overshoot with your lightspeed craft because it’s going so far so fast. Think again about that two-second journey to the moon; if you flew for four seconds instead, you’d then have to turn around and come back - being many miles off course. Such navigational precision is probably beyond a human being, so we’d need an advanced computer or AI, creating another barrier between humanity and genuine lightspeed travel.
We still run into a fuel problem even with warp drives, however, because we don’t have a fuel source that would currently be able to power it. We’re relying on hypothetical “exotic matter” to someday make warp drives possible. So far, there’s no evidence that such exotic matter exists. Excitingly though, some research has reworked the warp drive concept in a way that doesn’t require exotic matter to fuel it. If this is a viable solution, then reaching or exceeding the speed of light without breaking the laws of physics might become possible. Once, it had seemed impossible that humans would ever fly through the sky, or travel to the moon - and those are things we’ve already accomplished. So maybe it’s only a matter of time until we have true warp drives.
But could the government’s top scientists have already found this warp drive workaround years ago? Could they already possess such technology? Might they already have made it not impossible for people to use? One reason a government might then want to hide light speed technology would be to retain its dominance in outer space. If lightspeed tech exists, then the government that owns it could have already sent astronauts to visit the other planets in the solar system during top-secret missions. And that could give them a major edge when it comes to manufacturing and resources, too. We know that the solar system is full of resources, not only on other planets and moons, but also on asteroids. If we could only travel quickly enough, mining asteroids for the vast wealth they hold would be simple. Say if only one entity, like a national government, had the ability to take advantage of this… they’d basically have immeasurable power. The resources in just near space are so vast they completely dwarf what’s available on Earth.
Finally, should a solution to our lightspeed problems have been brought to humanity by an alien race (either visiting or crash-landing here) then that’s potentially another reason as to why it could be kept secret. Now, to admit we have lightspeed technology would be admitting not only that intelligent aliens are out there, too, but that they’ve been to Earth and have been actively covered up before… potentially for decades. If only one government wants to reverse-engineer alien tech without sharing it, then of course, they’re going to hide that from the public. But if the public were then to find out, all remaining trust could be totally lost.
Technically speaking, lightspeed travel might be possible… and if any one country were to unlock its secrets, then it’s easy to imagine they’d want to keep it all to themselves. As it stands, there’s no genuine suggestion that this kind of tech actually is out there on Earth… but what’s your verdict? Is there something happening behind the scenes? Because that’s why the government COULD be hiding speed-of-light travel.