Physics Students Calculate What Hyperspace Travel Might Really Look Like

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News Posted: Wed, Jan 16 2013 10:31 AM
George Lucas may have sold his Star Wars franchise to Disney a little too soon, missing out on an opportunity to release yet another re-mastered special edition with authentic looking hyperspace travel. That's right folks, we've all been misled by Hollywood (shocking, but true!); traveling through galaxies at warp speed in real-life would look nothing like it does on the big screen in practically any sci-fi flick you can think of.

Here's how most of us think about traveling at lightspeed:

Hyperspace Travel in Star Wars

Turns out that's a bogus depiction of what it would actually look like, according to University of Leicester students. Don't go gloating, Star Trek fans, those same students also dismissed all these fancy Warp Drive scenes:



The fourth year physics students -- Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle, and Cameron Scoular -- say that passengers of lightspeed travel would see a central disc of bright light rather than stretched out stars. In fact, there would be no signs of stars because of the "Doppler Effect," which is the same effect that causes the siren of an ambulance to become higher in pitch as it comes closer.

So, what would hyperspace travel really look like? Buckle up and take a gander:

Hyperspace Travel
Image Source: University of Leicester

It's not just the view from the cockpit that Hollywood got wrong, either. The students say that intense X-rays from stars would push the Millennium Falcon and/or the Enterprise back, slowing each one down. The pressure would be comparable to what's felt at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

"If the Millennium Falcon existed and really could travel that fast, sunglasses would certainly be advisable. On top of this, the ship would need something to protect the crew from harmful X-ray radiation," Connors said.

Valid point, Mr. Connors, and to that we say:

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 3:11 PM

Well, that's pretty under-whelming, haha.

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sevags replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 10:45 PM

Come on you didn't feel like you were traveling through space and time while looking at that picture? I feel like that every time I also shine a flashlight onto a white wall... wonder what those Leicester physics students were on "whoaaaa shine the light on the wall again I just thought of something"

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FreeJet replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 10:51 PM

If you were traveling at the speed of light, you wouldn't actually "see" anything because you would be dead. OK, that statement was a little harsh. You could probably see stuff but that's because you would be an angel in Heaven or something. It can happen.

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Now what would you see behind you if you looked back, traveling faster than light? Would you see nothing because you were traveling faster than the light from stars behind you, or would you see some other odd effect since you'd actually be overtaking the light from the direction it's streaming from?

Would that mean you'd see what was physically behind you in front of you since those light particles are now coming towards you instead of away from you?

Things that make you go Hmmm.

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Dorkstar replied on Fri, Jan 18 2013 10:54 AM

Haha, I never would have thought light speed would be so boring.

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photon replied on Mon, Apr 22 2013 4:53 AM

This is incredible a Hyperspace travel would be a great experience but we have to wait. Right now we have to be satisfied with what we have access to, for fun now trying out a las vegas comedy show would be good idea.

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smoe87 replied on Tue, Apr 23 2013 12:15 AM

very true!  remember that you can only "see" something if light is hitting your retinas.  if you are traveling at the speed of or faster than light, you won't be able to see anything but the light in front of you

everyone should looks up the alcubierre drive.

if i learned this in physics class in high school, i would've been soooo hooked.

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ajm531 replied on Tue, Apr 23 2013 5:56 PM

THEYVE GONE PLAID !!!!!! seriously no spaceballs love??? ok im sad to see its it a bit bland but it would be cool if we saw shirt patterns while traveling FTL

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Symb0lic replied on Thu, Jun 27 2013 8:50 PM

I'm glad we're all still aware of being unable to travel at the speed of light, right? It kind of takes the fun out of travel to imagine it the right way, I will just say that I prefer the movie magic. I always had my suspicions that it wouldn't look like that, since you're not zooming past all of those stars, I mean, Stars are very far apart, even going the speed of light would still take you many years to pass the next closest star to us.

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You could call me old fashion, but I'll just stick to the ground. I'll let the more adventurous handle that light speed business.

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Awesome but a boring view lol. Nonetheless, cool. Big Smile

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A bit boring, but very cool nonetheless!

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Lol, Boy were the movie directors/writers off a bit!

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KierWest replied on Mon, Jul 15 2013 7:47 AM

I  totally agree! Sucks knowing I chose the boring major....

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