Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fluff vs Reality: Warp Travel and the Speed of Light (and humour)

If you just want the humour, scroll to the bottom.

So I have been just chillin' lately, painting and watching a lot of discovery channel/science channel type shows. One of these shows was the Science of Star Trek or something like that. In it, they talk extensively about interstellar travel and the possibilities of it in the future. And wouldn't you know, it is virtually impossible or at least believed to be almost entirely impractical given our current understanding of physics and the energy required. And every time science thinks it may have the key to the speed of light, it turns out is just an experimental error or difficulty with detection equipment and that the Theory of Relativity holds true and the speed of light is a boundary that can't be broken. This is depressing in a way, because it suggest that we will never reach the next star. It would take us about 80,000 years to reach the closest star with our current technology. That is incredibly long. Basically, if Neanderthals had launched a space ship, it would be getting there now. Even travelling at light speed is pretty slow, when you consider that we measure everything in light years, and thousands of light years at that.
.5 past light speed is actually pretty slow there Han.
So what is suggested is maybe creating a bubble of space time around a vessel, essentially as far as I can tell, bending space so you can get there faster without accelerating past the speed of light. This apparently is much more possible, even though I don't really get the physics of it.
Maybe something like this? Is changing space time how Han traveled in less that 12 parsecs (a unit of distance rather than speed)
So basically in most sci-fi universes keep the vessels in our universe and try and alter physics/distort reality to travel. And as we all know this is where 40k diverges, but it could be more real than we think. What is a Gellar feild? A bubble of reality. Well, really another way to describe that to me would be a bubble of space time. Is it not? Where 40k gets really divergent though is how ships enter a separate parallel universe, the Immaterium. And while the warp here is a chaotic realm of madness, the idea of travelling outside the universe seems pretty cool to me, and if it were possible, it could be a better answer than trying to distort and break the laws of physics in our reality. If you could travel faster outside of reality, and get across vast distances in a reasonable amount of time, why not do it.
It looks much more impressive too.
So since it is likely impossible to break the speed of light, and that is actually a really slow speed for interstellar travel, we are either going to have to accept as a species that we will never leave our solar system or figure out another way to do it. The idea of bubbles of reality is pretty cool and I hope physicists in the future can look more into that, but in a way, that brings us one step closer to the fiction of 40k. And since science has trouble coming up with solutions in reality, maybe it will be outside reality that answers are ultimately found. Lets just hope, if that is the case, we don't find powers lurking in the depths.

And now for the humor (this is from something found on 4chan edited for some vulgarity, grammar and inaccurate fluff).

Let me take you through the average Warp travel procedure.
The Captain calls down to prep the ship for translation into the Warp. At that time, 12000 slaves who have never seen the outside of the work galley begin shovelling the dead bodies of previous workers into massive furnaces along with whatever hard source of fuel they have in storage, like a brutal Mr. Fusion. A pure field of psychic SCREW YOU is generated around the ship. Meanwhile, a blinded mentally traumatized man inside a metal egg begins screaming unendingly as he charts a course through the warp, which is basically a giant ocean of pure emotion in which Unnamed Ones lounge around a toy with humanity, just because they simply exist and have the luxury of doing so. The ship then ploughs through the miasma of what you could call Hell if you lacked imagination. Pray to the Holy Throne that the Navigator doesn't accidentally get you lost, get possessed by a Daemon, or just explode like a squishy human pinata from the mental stress of being surrounded by so much CANNOT BE. If the Gellar field even flickers on the 8000 year old vessel (which no one understands completely how it works) Daemons made of RAPE and LEMON JUICE and do things you literally cannot imagine to every soul onboard. I mean that. The very notion of understanding the completeness of the horror the human victims would be witness to would shatter your perception of reality and cause your head to explode.
When the ship finally exits this realm of mind rape that makes Salvador Dali's nightmares seem like a children's book, the mission clock says they were only in the Warp for 5 days. It was 17 months for everyone onboard. They also missed their destination by a couple light years and 8/10ths of the crew is dead or criminally insane.
The Captain turns to his bridge crew and pops the cork on his finest bottle of 100 year old Amasec and salutes them on another successful Warp jump.
Welcome to 40k.