Thursday, January 5, 2012

Time Travel: Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking 2010 TV-PG 2nd of 3 Episodes

Time Travel: Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking 2010 TV-PG 2nd of 3 Episodes
5 of 5 stars

The second episode of this three part series focuses on time travel. Stephen Hawking is our guide through vocal narration into the visual delights this made for cable Discovery channel special, which had to have had a huge budget on the CGI alone.

There are 4 dimensions explained, with everything in existence having 3 dimensions, the 4th being the distance in time. Even if we could somehow find a way to travel in time, one could never travel to the past, only to the future (see the movie for the reasons, not going to ruin it for anyone if at all possible :)

Three ideas are explored, those of wormholes, black holes and traveling almost the speed of light. I found it interesting that wormholes already exist all around us, in minuscule places in the quantum foam of every day life, smaller than even an atom. However these wormholes are millions of centimeters small, and travel nearly immeasurably small distances on the space time continuum. In great detail, wormholes as a time traveling source are ruled out mainly due to two conditions: paradoxes and feedback.

Next are black holes that if we could somehow design a ship to travel the distance & withstand the gravity of the black hole, could accelerate in orbit around it and actually proceed at a different time than our own back on earth. Impractical of course & unlikely considering the tiny gains for the resources expended.

Third is the idea that traveling 99.9% of the speed of light, we could conceivably travel forward in time. The reality of what would be required to get up to that speed in any spaceship makes this seem unlikely to our current understanding, but does not rule out a future resource to make this form of time travel possible. For instance, several analogies are used such as a speeding race car, a super fast train circling the earth 7 times every SECOND, in order to reach nearly the speed of light.

One principle I'd like to have heard more about is the fact that the speed of light will SLOW down anything that approaches the possibility of going the same or faster than the speed of light itself. How can the speed of light be self-aware enough to slow things down that might exceed its own speed? Is this a physical law, and if so, how does this work? Perhaps this is the motivation for further study into physics.

This series is amazing visually and brings extremely complex ideas within the reach of any one interested in the subject. Obviously a space engineer would be bored by this, as would an astronomer or physicist, however for laypeople it is explained in everyday terms that make enormously complex concepts easily grasped. However, the short length of time for the episodes means there is little in-depth information. These are just too brief to be anything more than an entertaining eye & mind expanding idea for further exploration. Well worth the view, I can find no real reason for buying the DVDs since these are not complex enough to need more than one viewing, nor are they interesting enough to be watched more than once, perhaps twice at most. Great for all ages.

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