“What is the most beautiful thing in science?” 

Neil deGrasse Tyson: E = mc2

The mass-energy equivalence is one of Albert Einstein’s most famous formulas. It states that anything having mass has an equivalent amount of energy. Einstein described it as “the most important upshot of the special theory of relativity”. Keep this in mind, it will come in handy as you read this article.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel faster than the speed of light? Of course, according to Einstein’s equation, as the speed of the object reaches the speed of light, its mass reaches infinity and so does the energy required to move it, making it physically impossible to achieve; But what if it you could travel almost as fast as light? 

Can you travel faster than light?

First off, you must know that time as measured by a speeding traveler slows down as compared to time measured by someone on Earth. This phenomenon is called twin paradox. Apart from the fact that the passage of time will be reduced for you, you would experience some strange visual consequences like Aberrationand the Doppler Effect.

Your whole field of view would shrink down to a tiny, tunnel-shaped “window” out in front of your spacecraft. This happens due to aberration because photons (even the ones behind you) appear to come in from the forward direction. In addition to this, the Doppler effect kicks in when light waves from stars in front of you would crowd together and make objects appear blue. Light waves from the stars behind you would spread apart and appear red. The phenomenon becomes more intense and extreme as you move faster. This happens until the stars move out of your perceptible wavelength, that is when they fade to black or vanish against the background.

An illustration of the twin paradox

Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer and astrophysicist, spoke about time travel and how it’s related to the speed of light. He pointed out that in accordance with Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence equation and the time dilation theory, that time travel into the indefinite future is consistent with the laws of nature. You can read more about that here.

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