dullara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 37 NUMBER 4

Howdy from Joe’s Place!

Joe Papworth, K8MP Howdy from Joe’s Place

Trans-Warp Radio- The next break-through in communications?

Since the advent of communications via electro-magnetic waves, global communication has been nearly instantaneous. Even inherent delays in satellite communications are almost negligible. This form of communication has served us well- until now. With the advent of the space age, the seemingly real-time communications method of radio needs a boost. During lunar missions, radio wave travel time from the moon to the earth was less than two seconds. That delay was quite tolerable. But what about a Mars or Jupiter mission? Or someday, beyond our own solar system? That is a different matter. According to space.com, the average distance from Earth to Mars is 140 million miles. (35 million minimum and a whopping 250 million maximum) Those extremes are rare but it shows that the planet regarded as our neighbor is not all that close. At 140 million miles, radio wave travel time is about 12.5 minutes. That’s 25 minutes you’ll be on-hold waiting for a reply. That’s fine for sending birthday greetings to the kids at home but what if you had a real emergency “Up there” and needed a quick answer? One solution could be Trans-Warp Radio. The speed of light (and radio waves) has long been considered to be a constant. Some astrophysicists are now suggesting that it is not a constant and that a varying speed of light would answer questions about the rate at which the universe is expanding, its age, and size. Physicists theorize that if this speed variation could be artificially induced, radio waves could be made to travel much faster. One possibility would be to “Sling-shot- relay” the signals across a series of moving repeaters. In this scenario, a radio signal would be transmitted from Earth to a relay station that is traveling at just below the speed of light. That first relay station would have to be passing near the Earth so that the radio signal could quickly intercept it. The relay station could then re- transmit the signal at nearly twice the speed of light. The next relay station, traveling at just under twice the speed of light, would pick up and retransmit the signal at nearly three times the speed of light, and so on. To make the repeater stations re- usable, they would be placed in a solar orbit with a trajectory that regularly brought them into a usable range. Critics of such an arrangement scoff at the concept, saying that the speed-of-light-and-greater repeater stations will not be feasible in the foreseeable future. Proponents say that they will be feasible by the time any Mars, Jupiter, and beyond missions are launched. Subspace Radio A more outlandish sounding galaxy-spanning form of communication that has been proposed is Subspace Radio. On the surface, it sounds much less feasible than Trans-warp Radio because it requires the use of the theoretical inter-dimensional “Space between the spaces”. But researchers have already proven that this “Subspace” does exist and it appears that electro-magnetic waves travel much faster through this medium, perhaps hundreds of times faster. Advocates of subspace radio admit there are some major obstacles to actually using it, not the least of which being that there is no way to test it until humans have traveled far enough away to compare the travel times of conventional radio signals to subspace signals. Another question is how to inject a radio signal from normal space into subspace and then capture it at the receiving end. Subspace Radio fans say that eventually it will win out over Trans-warp Radio because it will be much cheaper to implement. “Once an interface between our space and subspace has been developed, we will be all set” said one scientist. Gravitational Lensing Perhaps the most plausible method for speeding up radio waves would be similar to an already understood phenomenon: Gravitational Lensing. One example of this is the so-called “Twin Quasar”, which is also referred to as “The Twin QSO” (What a great name !) The Twin Quasar is actually a single entity but it appears as two objects when viewed from Earth. One of the images is light that has been bent as it passes through the gravitational field of a cluster of galaxies. One of the images actually arrives at Earth fourteen months ahead of its partner. If galactic candidates for electro-magnetic wave bending can be identified, they could be used to accelerate approaching radio waves and then sling-shot them along at higher speed. In conclusion, one thing is certain: As we conduct more distant space missions, a faster means of communications must be developed. Perhaps the final solution has not even been conceived yet. Time will tell.