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Traveling at Light Speed Does Not Look Like Star Wars

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 11:59am
Univ. of Leicester

What physics students suggest hyperspace travel would really look like. Image: Univ. of LeicesterPhysics students at the Univ. of Leicester have found that the depiction of hyperspace in Star Wars is light years away from how it would appear in reality.

A group of final year masters students from our Department of Physics and Astronomy published studies of this year’s Journal of Physics Special Topics.

In the Star Wars films, every star in the sky is seen to stretch before the characters’ eyes as the hyperdrive is engaged.

The four students - Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle and Cameron Scoular – have shown that this would not be the case.

They have shown that the crew would actually see a central disc of bright light.

There would be no sign of stars because of the Doppler effect the same effect which causes the siren of an ambulance to become higher in pitch as it comes towards you.

Doppler blue shift is a phenomenon caused by a source of electromagnetic radiation including visible light moving towards an observer.

The effect means that the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation will be shortened.

From the Millennium Falcon crew’s point of view, the wavelength of the light from stars will decrease and “shift” out of the visible spectrum into the X-ray range.

They would simply see a central disc of bright light as Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is shifted into the visible spectrum.

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is radiation left behind from the Big Bang, and is spread across the universe fairly uniformly.

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