I Solve Your Fictional Problems with FTL-Drives

by johannespunkt

The post on Time Travel was a success! On account of how everybody loves technobabble, I will strive to make solving your fictional problems a regular occurence. Today’s letter comes from one @_TK_O (Ms. Osborne), who writes

Dear Mr Punkt,

My starship is not peppy enough, and I’m struggling to get it to go faster than light. However, all the fancy spaceships my friends own seem to be able to manage it! Tell me, how can I win the next big drag race in the Alpha Quadrant?


Ms. Osborne, T.

Dearest Ms. Osborne,

I am sorry to hear you’re having problems with your starship. Is it of Jeffersonian make? I have always found those to cause me trouble. I shall operate on the assumption that it is indeed one of their two models advertised to be able to fly FTL, otherwise a much more thorough remake is needed.

The shocking truth is that it is all in the flux capacitator; yours is probably configured wrongly. That, or your lawyers have died.

See, it is not actually possible to go faster than c, the universal constant. When calling it ‘the speed of light’ and calling super-c-speeds Faster Than Light, we are tricking ourselves into reversing the causality. It’s the speed of light because it’s the universal speed limit, it is not the universal speed limit because it is the speed of light. Light has no mass; if the speed limit were to be raised, light would follow it. Same thing if it were lowered. With these limitations, you see that it is very difficult indeed to break these laws.footnote

We get around this issue completely by having every starship also be a time machine. We also make liberal use of copyright laws. There are probably some Intellectual Property Lawyers hidden away somewhere on your ship – make sure that they are fed and taken care of, and bathed regularly.

The copyright laws of the future (in which your question is asked) state that only one of a copyrighted thing can exist at a time, unless otherwise noted. Say you want to go to from Point A to Point Z. You start out at time T+0. What you do is that you get up to speed and then you reach Point B, at T+1. At Point B you go back in time to T+0, and then you blink out of existence due to copyright laws. However, if you had continued, you would have hit Point C at T+1, which is exactly when the first version of you blinked out of existence due to jumping back in time. And so you blink back into existence at Point C and you repeat the process until Z is reached.

The flux capacitator’s configuration determines how big leaps in time you can do, and the strength of your lawyers determine how many of your ship there can’t be at the same time.

Oh, and the only way to win a drag race is to be the most fabulous you that you can be. I cannot help you more than that. Godspeed.

J. Punkt.


For other instalments of this series, see: tag/i-solve-your-fictional-problems/

To send in your own questions, email me at johannes.punkt at gmail dot com. I will answer every request at pseudo- or pseudopseudo-scientific explanation of your fictional problems.

footnote: that paragraph is real science!