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Compact Cosmos

46 46 47 47 SPACETIMEGAMES there and back again If we travel really fast,the relativisticeffects become ever more severe as space and time juggle to conserve the speed of light. As an example,we shall send the Alien on a journey to a distant star,the UFO naturally flying at close to lightspeed 1. One of the first things StarGirl notices is that the UFO appears shorter 2. This is a side effect of clocks running at different rates when in relative motion,since length from StarGirls perspective is measured by speed multiplied by time taken to go past a point. For the Alien,the crafts length remains the same. As the UFO approaches lightspeed, more and more energy is needed to accelerate,since rather than adding to the velocity some of the energy is instead converted into mass 3. This is a result of Einsteins Emc2formula,which says that mass can be changed into an incredible amount of energy,and vice versa. In this instance the quicker an object travels the more total energy it has,thereby making it more massive and ever harder to acceleratetoo close to the speed of light and mass shoots up to infinity,leaving an unfortunate Alien undergoing gravitational collapse and ending up as a black hole. Luckily the Alien is wise,keeps his speed down,and manages the round trip to a nearby star in what seems a few months. Alas time has passed more slowly for the fastmoving traveler than for those left behind 4. On his return,all that remains of StarGirl is her great great great great grandchildren 5,who grew up with an old family story of a friend who flew off to a distant star.
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