(This will be part of a Science Track I like to share with co-workers that I will send periodically when I find something extraordinarily interesting. Let me know if you would like to be removed from future topics.)
On October 15, 1997, Nasa launched Cassini from a Titan IVB/Centaur rocket package at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The probe’s primary mission is to Study Saturn, with many sub-objectives including flyby of Venus and what I find most interesting, the study of space time as its effected by relativity. What is General Relativity….well, the Wikipedia definition is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_relativity. What does this mean to us? …..well Einstein predicted that space-time is affected and bent/augmented by large masses in space. For example, our own earth warps the fabric of space time. So does our own Sun to a much larger effect as can be seen by the photo below. Cassini is the probe you see at the bottom and our own Earth is seen at the farthest point in the photo. The green line indicates a radio signal being sent from the far side of the Solar System near Venus and Saturn pointed at Earth (about 621 million miles away). What happens when the signal flies past the Sun en-route to the Earth? Since a radio signal, in its simplest form, is just a form of light that is invisible to human eyes, its bent by gravity. The way the calculation was accomplished was by taking measurements for a ping to be returned from the probe when radio signal was not being subjected to the sun’s gravity and measure the increased delay as the probe went further and further from Earth. Some complex math later and you have the average increase of the signal. Now, when the solar system orbits the sun and the signal becomes warped by the sun when it orbits per below and the signal passes the Sun’s gravity per below, you get a longer signal delay from a ping to the probe. This can be hours long, so very tiny differences are able to be inferred due to this warping.
Why does this matter to us and more importantly, who does this matter to scientist….. Experiments that prove concepts of general relativity are expected to have some level of error, but during this experiment, it followed the cosmological model “precisely”….furthermore, this further proves Einstein’s theory, and therefore further supports the implication that time can be bent/dilated/warped/slowed down/sped up and that time travel in at least some fashion is possible. This means that traveling at near light speed or even finding ways to warp space/time is possible and we could travel faster than light which would allow us to reach nearby stars during a single lifetime. The only problem to people left on Earth when you do travel to at/near/greater than light speed is by the time you get back (even in your own lifetime), that due to warping of space time, time has passed on Earth Generations and Generation.
In the next edition, I will cover some concepts of near/greater than light travel and explain that concept and what space-time is (at least what we think we know so far).