“I really didn’t have to work, shall we say, with Star Trek. It was a natural. When I opened my mouth, there was Scotty. It’s like I tell people what you see in Scotty is 99% James Doohan and 1% accent.” -James Doohan
So, your friend on the USS Enterprise beamed you aboard, took you on a relativistic journey at impulse speeds around the Solar System, and brought you back to your starting point. You find that less time has passed for you than your family who remained on Earth, yet you’ve traveled a much greater distance. How does this all work?
Moving close to the speed of light results in times and distances transforming, with lengths — including the length of your starship — becoming shorter in the direction of motion. Image credit: David Taylor of Northwestern, via http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~infocom/Ideas/einstein.html.
How much energy does it take, what’s the science behind it, and how do you get your family to believe you when you tell them what happened to you? Some basic advice: give them times in their reference frame, admit to the drinking you actually do, and if you go someplace unbelievable, take a photo!
Ethan Siegel’s upcoming new book, Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive. Image credit: Quarto / Voyageur Press, CBS / Paramount, and E. Siegel.