Sunday, December 28, 2008



Supplement date: 20 December 2008

The Speed of Light in Interstellar Space

Light is what we call radiant electromagnetic energy. It originates in the acceleration of charged particles. such as electrons. These parent particles may be either bound, as in an atom, or free, as in space. Once it exists, light propagates at a velocity that is controlled by the ambient medium. We routinely slow it down from its in-vacuum speed by causing it to pass through media such as glass. We are here concerned with its speed in the hard vacuum we know as interstellar space. When our spaceship exposes its antimatter core to interstellar space, the value of c is increased in the immediate vicinity of the spaceship. It is often said that the speed of light is given by a combination of atomic constants, such as the charge and mass of the electron. However, the question arises, what electrons? In interstellar space, there are very few electrons in the light years that yawn between most stars.

That speed (usually written as c) has a numerical value of approximately 300,000 km/sec (more precisely, its average value is 299,792.4562 kilometers per second. This speed is presently far greater than that of any spacecraft in existence. C is widely believed to be one of nature's physical constants. The reason for this belief goes back to a series of brilliant measurements made by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley that extended back to the year 1887. Others confirmed their result.

However, all of the universe is pervaded by gravity; no shield against gravity is known. This “gravity” controls the curvature of spacetime everywhere. (This is equivalent to saying that the force of gravity is given everywhere by the local curvature.) Each point in spacetime is the vector sum of all the gravitational fields of masses, both normal and antimatter masses, and both local and distant. In particular, our region of spacetime has a curvature determined practically completely by the mass of the Sun. The “solar neighborhood” referred to in this blog extends to huge distances. All of the system’s objects, even objects beyond Pluto, execute orbital motion about the Sun. This means that c is fixed in our neighborhood by the mass of the Sun. The principal reason that c is the 300,000 km/sec value that it is, is that the mass of the Sun is what it is. That is, the number of atoms in the Sun, together with their composition, determines c in the neighborhood of the Sun. The Sun is composed of normal matter; its occasional coronal mass ejections do not result in subsequent flares of annihilation gamma radiation at Earth, when the solar particles encounter Earth's atmosphere.

Secular Variability of c

As the Sun consumes its thermonuclear fuel in its core, energy is generated. This energy eventually makes its way out to the solar surface and then escapes into space as sunlight. Using Einstein’s relation of mass and energy, this means that the solar mass decreases with time, slowly decreasing the local curvature of spacetime and hence our value of c.

Neglecting the relatively small solar motions induced by the motions of the planets, the Sun is not motionless. Carrying Earth and all the other planets with it, the Sun is executing a gravitational orbit about the Galactic central region. As it does so, we approach and recede from other stars, stars that are also partaking of the general Galactic revolution. Therefore the gravity – induced curvature of spacetime changes, presumably causing the speed of light to change; c itself varies in time. Admittedly, this Galactic change is slow by human standards: about a quarter of a billion years is required in order to complete one full revolution.


In addition to offering humanity a possible means of salvation, antimatter is unquestionably the most dangerous substance that we have ever encountered. Antimatter must never be touched by human hands. Even worse, it must never touch any matter which had its origin on earth, or even anywhere in the solar system. If these conditions are violated, the antimatter will violently annihilate the normal matter; An incredibly great explosion will result, an explosion whose magnitude dwarfs, if not trivializes, the largest thermonuclear explosion ever planned. The precise energy yield will depend on the mass of the antimatter involved. The only way to handle antimatter is VERY CAREFULLY and remotely, through the use of magnetic fields. The magnetic fields will most likely require the use of superconducting coils. If coolant is required for the superconductors, its supply MUST never fail.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Faster Than Light

(image from Taken by Jerry Lodriguss)


Presented below is a concept of how it might be possible to travel in space at speeds in excess of the speed of light in vacuum. It is presented now because of my firm conviction that immediate actions are necessary to Save Our Species; steadily increasing overpopulation of the planet Earth by humanity, coupled with a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, signals that we may soon wipe the planet’s surface clear of civilization, if not of life itself. One mode of salvation would be to establish self-sustaining branches of humanity on other planets. It does not appear that any other habitable planets exist within our solar system. However the Milky Way Galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars, many if not all of which have planets orbiting them. Some of those planets are most likely habitable. Astronomers generally believe that these stars are separated by distances averaging a few light years. To reach them in practical amounts of time will require faster than light travel.

I must warn the reader that the hypotheses contained herein are completely unproven. They could turn out to be completely wrong. It is my sincere hope this presentation will at least stimulate further work in this area.


Robert Haymes
Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy
Rice University
18 October 2008

TO ENABLE TRAVEL TO DISTANCES COMPARABLE WITH THE DIAMETER OF THE GALAXY IN TIMES (AS MEASURED ON EARTH) THAT ARE MUCH SHORTER THAN ONE HUMAN GENERATION. One consequence of such superlight speeds would be that current astronomical ideas of interstellar distances could be tested for their accuracy.



Central to the argument is the idea that the speed of light is constrained by the interactions of the light with gravitational fields encountered en route. It is believed that normal matter (e.g. the sun) warps the space time continuum with a curvature of one sign, but the presence of an equal mass of antimatter warps the continuum with opposite-sign curvature. The general approach is to increase the speed of light in vacuum for that region of space that includes the entire spaceship and its contents. If c is locally increased, the barriers imposed by the relativistic transformations on distance, mass and time will not be encountered at c.

By “spaceship”, we mean a vehicle that not only provides life support, but rocket engines that move the ship and its contents.

It is known that gravitational fields cause light traveling through them to change its direction of motion; we propose here to change its speed as well.

The required amount of antimatter mass equals the mass of the spaceship and its contents, plus the amount required by antimatter rocket engines. It is important that the positions of the center of mass of both the antimatter and the matter should coincide with each other.


Antimatter has two known origins, natural and artificial. It exists naturally in the direction of the central region of the Galaxy. It will likely prove impractical to mine this source for its antimatter. Artificially, it may be made by operating nucleon accelerators. Such accelerators exist on Earth; antimatter produced by them must be transported to the spaceship in evacuated, magnetized, ultraviolet-illuminated containers. It is likely that the artificial masses of antimatter, produced by accelerators carried on board the spaceship, will be found to be more convenient.


The rocket engines referred to above may be fueled by antimatter annihilation; when antimatter is annihilated, gamma rays are produced. The gamma rays may form the exhaust speed from the rocket reaction chamber. If a port is provided on the spaceship, the port permits these gamma rays to escape. The spaceship recoils in the opposite direction to the exhaust. The exhaust speed is the greatest speed currently available, namely, c. Increasing the value of c suggests a spaceship speed c' greater than c. The speed in flight may be adjusted by controlling the rate of inflowing of normal matter to the antimatter fuel.


Gamma radiation can be harmful to life; therefore it might be desirable to supplement the annihilation engines with chemical engines that burn fuel. These chemical engines would be operated only in the vicinity of living matter, such as found on Earth. When the spaceship moves sufficiently far from the planet, the chemical engines are turned off and operation of the antimatter engines commences.


One way of putting the hypothesis contained herein is to say matter “attracts” light passing by it, thereby slowing its speed to c. While antimatter, on the other hand, “repels” light passing by it, increasing the speed from c.

It may prove helpful to think of the spaceship volume as having the shape of a “hollow bubble,” a bubble whose surface encompasses the spaceship. The surface of the bubble is composed of matter. At the center of the bubble is a core of photo-ionized antimatter. Upon command, the matter shield is retracted exposing the antimatter core to interstellar space.


The speed of light accelerated by the antimatter core rises toward a value c’ that is governed by the distribution of remote cosmic masses of matter and antimatter. The speed of light is considerable reduced by passage through the solar neighborhood. It will likely prove necessary to pass outside the solar influence in order to achieve superlight exhaust speed. This may mean commanding the shield removal at solar distances of no less than 100 astronomical units.


Antimatter ions may be made through photoionization of the neutral antimatter by suitably placed sources of ultraviolet light that continually illuminate the antimatter. The wavelength of the w light depends on the atomic number of the antimatter. Antimatter requires storage in a hard vacuum whose particle density is at most then density of the interstellar medium. Since that density is not zero, the photoions will need to be continually replenished.