The Instellar Autobahn

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about time, time travel, black holes, and traversable wormholes for the time travel story I’ve been working on.  While I’m not a physicist by any stretch of the imagination, I admit to finding it all fascinating.  It’s gotten to the point that I’ve gotten lost in the research and, to some extent, forgotten about the story—d’oh! 

In my reading I’ve come across several interesting ideas that could make backdrops or key speculative elements in a number of stories.  The most interesting one I’ve found was from a gentleman named James Essig (you can find his equation-heavy site here) that postulated about building a tube that could “filter out all or nearly all zero point electromagnetic waves with a wavelength such that the nodes of the standing waves formed therein would fall on the inner wall of the tube.”  As I understand it, this would allow the speed of light to actually be greater inside the tube than in the “regular” universe, allowing faster travel between two points (from the point of view of an observer in the “regular” universe) without actually exceeding the speed of light.  

While we don’t have the technology to build a traversable tube like this, such a condition has been created in the lab—called the Casimir effect—so it seems this might be theoretically possible.  (Of course there are still the problems of mass/energy as an object accelerates closer to the speed of light, but let’s ignore that pesky issue.)  Imagine the galaxy spiderwebbed with an interstellar “autobahn” network built by a technologically advanced alien race.  Is the race still around?  Where do all of the “roads” go?  Hmmm…the story possibilities seem endless.

About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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