In this day of depressing political news, social media outrage mobs, high cost housing and climate change, it’s easy to think things can’t get better and the world is going to end. If you think too much about how bad things are then you are likely to pick up a bottle of whiskey and drink.
The discovery of electricity, splitting the atom (which lead to nuclear weapons and power) and of course the internet are 3 techs that were a game changer of humanity. Whether the changes they made were for better or worse is debatable, but everyone will agree the world will never be the same because of those groundbreaking technologies.
But today, a big deal is made about the current state of the tech world. When a new iPhone is released many people loses their minds and many others will wait in line for hours just to get their hands on the newest smartphone that in all honesty is not that different from last year’s phone. Tesla comes out with a new electric car that can drive a few more miles and it’s top of the news. But despite the latest smartphone or electric car, the world feels like it has stagnated. And humanity overall doesn’t seem to be getting any better morally and socially.
So what new tech, if it ever comes, can be a game changer? I say Faster. Than. Light. Travel! FTL. Yes, I am not kidding! “But, but, wait a minute, doesn’t the physics community say that traveling faster than light is impossible, you know, that little thing I heard about Einstein’s special theory of relativity?” And you are right to say that, but perhaps you haven’t heard of the Alcubierre Drive?
Long story short, Mexican Physicist Miguel Alcubierre, taking inspiration from Star Trek, got inspired, did some complicated mathematics and put together a white paper explaining how a Star Trek like “warp drive” might be possible in real life. Basically, it involves expanding space behind the spacecraft and contracting it in front thus making it possible to exceed the speed of light. All that sounds fantastic but the biggest problem with Alcubierre drive is being able to generate negative mass or “exotic matter,” which no one has any idea how to create that for the moment.
Be that as it may, assuming physicist can overcome the problem of creating exotic matter and other hurtles, Faster Than Light (FTL) will be a game changer for humanity and here are 5 reasons why.
1) The human race will dedicate itself to a greater collective goal
When faster than light travel is possible, world governments, corporations and entrepreneurs will realize there is a great big universe out there waiting to be explored, exploited and made our own. Untold billions of dollars will go into research, building starships and education, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Astronomers and astrophysics will be studying the heavens with renewed interest giving the media something else to talk about other than political scandals, natural disasters and celebrity gossip. New jobs would be created on a level never before seen in human history.
Also, although this might be a stretch, I believe war will go away as well. At least war will not be as prevalent because governments will reduce their military spending to fund their space programs. Furthermore waging war over resources (which many say is at the root of most wars) won’t be necessary when you have unlimited resources among the stars.
2) Environmental catastrophe can be avoided
When the ability to leave mother earth becomes a reality, many people I suspect will in fact leave. No, not right away, but certainly once it becomes safer and reliable like air travel is today. Just reducing humanities numbers here on earth alone will reduce our carbon footprint and that will no doubt have a great benefit to our ecosystem.
Added to that, billions of dollars will be going into research and development, some of which will yield technology for better life support, eco-friendly and efficient waste disposal and sustainable methods to grow food which will no doubt be used here on earth. For that I am certain.
3) New and better technology awaits
Remember the part where I said billions of dollars going into research? Well, just because the human race now has the means to physically travel faster than light doesn’t mean we have the other tech we need to keep humans alive and healthy in the harsh environment of space. There will still be many other things scientist and engineers will need to figure out to make a real life starship possible, such as artificial gravity, life support, growing food, shielding astronauts from radiation (that’s a big one), protecting the space craft from debris strikes (because hitting a small spec of space dirt at billions of miles an hour will ruin your day, real quick), etc.
We have some smart scientist and engineers who will no doubt solve most if not all of these challenges somehow or another, but when they do most of that tech will end up as everyday products for you and me.
Don’t be too quick to scoff at my saying that. That smart phone in your purse or pocket or in your hands right now has a microprocessor. The microprocessor’s origin can be traced out of NASA’s Apollo moon program when they were looking for computer compact and efficient enough to guide the space craft to the moon.
No one today can imagine the tech that will come to the household and industry, but some of those products will make life easier, save lives and create whole new industries in and of themselves aside from the exploration of space thus creating new jobs.
4) One of humanities biggest questions might be answered
The Fermi Paradox was proposed by Italian-American Physicist Enrico Fermi and basically goes something like this; the universe is very old, and very vast with untold trillions of stars allowing plenty of time for a technologically advanced alien race to develop but despite astronomers studying the heavens for many years, why have we not seen any evidence of aliens? Or so the theory goes.
The question of are we alone in the universe is the biggest question of the human race next to what happens when we die and is there a God. The ability to explore space will finally help the human race come allot closer to answering that deep and profound question. Just man’s curiosity to answer that question will be a driving force for us to leave the earth to find out. That very question will cause humanity to look beyond our petty concerns and discuss bigger and more profound ideas.
5) The human race will gain some piece of mind
The last reason why I say faster than light tech will be a game changer for the human race is because it will be the one technology that will allow it no longer worry about extinction. All it would take is some nasty global pandemic, a robo apocalypse or a major asteroid strikes and we’re done! We have nowhere, and I mean nowhere, to go! We have no colonies on the moon or Mars, nothing as of yet. All our eggs are in one basket. If something happens to the earth and we’re f*cked! FTL can change that. We certainly will colonize our solar system and other planets around other stars and once mankind is spread-out among the stars enough, we’ll be damn near immortal. The earth gets wiped out, yes it’s tragic, but it won’t be end of the human race.
These apocalyptic, fatalistic end of the world movies and TV shows will lose their relevance and probably die off as a genre. People will stop worrying about humanities demise thus creating less depression and anxiety, which could mean less drug use and less drug use is a good thing.
Anyhow, there you have it. I don’t know about you, but I sincerely hope to one day wake up, turn on the news and learn there has been a major breakthrough in physics in Faster Than Light travel is a reality. When this happens, mankind will indeed be building starships. It is a day we all should be looking forward to.