Introduction to Voyage: A Collaboration

Alternative version of image:Wooden hourglass ...
Remember: time is relative! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week ago, while listening to 19 Action News, Jason and I got to discussing time dilation. Time dilation relates to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; I’ve linked a video explaining it for anyone interested in the technical details.

To put it simply for the non-scientists out there, time dilation is the idea that the experience of the passage of time is subjective; two people may experience the passage of more or less time relative to the same event due to the nature of spacetime. In science fiction, it usually happens because of speed-of-light travel. An astronaut boards a spaceship, travels for a week at the speed of light, and when she gets back to Earth, it’s now 100 years in the future.* The astronaut’s only a week older, but because of the effects of time travel, she’s missed 100 years on her commute.

If the effects of time dilation are big for a human, imagine what it must be like for bacteria! Bacteria have brief lives. Generations come and go before we celebrate another birthday. So Jason and I got to talking about what it would be like for the bacteria that went into space with our hypothetical astronaut. We thought, “Hey! Would’t it be interesting to write two drabbles: one about the bacteria, and the other about the astronaut?”

And so a collaboration was born.

This weekend, look forward to both stories back-to-back, along with some additional fun facts about bacteria, disease vectors, and immunity.

And for those of you boarding a space ship today, you’ve got 100 years of archives to look forward to. Just leave the bacteria on your ship, please.

If given the chance to travel at the speed of light, would you take it? Would the privilege and wonder of seeing the future offset the loss of everything you know and love in the present?

*Numbers not necessarily accurate; no math was attempted in the production of this post.

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6 thoughts on “Introduction to Voyage: A Collaboration

    1. I’d vote “sensible” myself. If we ever develop speed-of-light travel, I hope all the volunteers will be of the grizzled, no-family-ties Batman sort who’ll be able to leave the whole world behind them without many regrets. Either that, or sad-sack pizza boys, like Philip J. Fry. 🙂

      1. Futurama was exactly what I was thinking of, and I realized that if you’re not happy now, chances are you’re not going to be happy in the future either!

      2. Hmm, good point! Okay, new plan: let’s offer the option to chronically ill people, of the “you have 1 year left to live” variety. They’ll still have a lot to lose, but who knows? Maybe they’ll find a cure in the future and be able to start a new life!

      3. Thinking philosophically about it, and I guess it still depends. The reason people will want a cure is to prolong their life, but if they move into the future, it will be a completely different life they’re prolonging.

        There’s certainly a lot to think about! I’ll stop being such a killjoy now. 😛

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