What's the Latest Development?
A paper written by University of Leicester graduate students and published in this year's Journal of Physics Special Topics claims that, contrary to the streaks of stretching stars that several generations of science fiction movie fans are used to seeing, the view from a faster-than-light spacecraft would look as though passengers were flying into a bright steady light. Co-author Katie Dexter even suggests that movie studios "take the physical implications of such high speed travel into account in their forthcoming films." The annual journal is an output of a course led by lecturer Mervyn Roy, and contains short papers on topics that he says are "amusing, topical, or a bit off the wall."
What's the Big Idea?
The students came to their conclusion via the the Doppler blue shift, which, in the case of a faster-than-light ship, would shorten the wavelength of starlight into the X-ray spectrum and cause viewers to see Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), residual radiation left behind from the Big Bang. They also discovered that the stars' X-rays would exert pressure on the ship similar to what might be felt at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and that extra amounts of energy would be needed in order to compensate.
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