How Light-Speed Travel Completely Destroys The Rebel Alliance

I have a real bone to pick with sci-fi movies’ portrayal of scientific and physical properties — I should say, “the misrepresentation and totally unrealistic expectations of scientific and physical properties.” Now, I do understand that we’re supposed to suspend disbelief for the hour or so that we spend watching sci-fi flicks but, if the writers spent a bit more time researching and a bit less time counting money, more of these movies would have plots that made sense.

How Light-Speed Travel Completely Destroys The Rebel Alliance
Photo by egenerica

Don’t get me wrong. I love the genre. The original Star Wars movies, for example, are a great trilogy. Having said that, I do have a few issues with the plot lines. Specifically, the one where jumping to light-speed is the default for anyone trying to get away from anyone. So, here’s the way it would have really gone.

Let’s look at “A New Hope: Episode IV.” Han, Chewie, Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids are escaping from the port at Mos Eisley. Han tells everyone to hold on ’cause he’s about to make the ‘jump’ to light-speed. Let’s assume that an old rickety spacecraft like the Millennium Falcon would even able to jump from cruising speed to light-speed. How would anyone aboard survive? The G forces alone would crush the ship and everyone in it, exploding their organs… instantly!

There are other problems with light-speed travel.

Number 1: the complete inability to navigate out of it. How do you know that you’re not going to slam into something? It would be impossible to avoid even the tiniest of space debris (which would instantly destroy the ship and all inhabitants on impact).

Number 2: (provided that you miraculously survive the trip). You’re gonna be in the flippin’ future! If you are able to travel at the speed of light, you’re not only traveling through space, but time.

Depending on how far they traveled in space (at light-speed) they may have gone 20, 30, or even 50 years into the future (or more). With one knee-jerk reaction, Han Solo effectively took himself, and all the important players in the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire, out of the picture. Everyone they knew and loved (including most of the Rebel Alliance) is now dead. The Empire rules the universe and balance was never brought to ‘The Force.’

Nice job, Han.

Antonio A. is an ex-machinist with a degree in digital media. He’s also a major geek. He writes: “Sci-fi and gaming are things that really ‘float my boat.’ Blogging about things that I like, dislike, or am intrigued by is a great way for me to pass on my thoughts about these subjects. I really hope that the reader enjoys what I do.”

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  • simplynonna

    gr8 site-butt how do you KNOW that debris would harm u?Are u using your own frame of reference??Or what others said or what u may believe to be true?Expect the unexpected and deal with it when it happens-sumX faith and trust are all u have 2 go bye;)

  • anon

    Going to need some citation here Mr. I have a degree in media

  • RW

    I read someone’s attempt at a Sci-Fi novel where the author got around the issue of “light speed” by the cryogenic freezing of main characters. Unfortunately, action at “Geologic Time” scales doesn’t make for an entertaining read, especially when the protagonists are not three dimensional, nor were the cultures engaging. You also had to do a wide amount of suspension of disbelief of the coincidences necessary.

  • Tom

    Number 1: You don’t navigate out of it, the computer flies it. Han said the calculations were complex and the ship had shields which deflected debris and sensors most likely would detect bigger items.

    Number 2: The future?? Says who??

    “How would anyone aboard survive? The G forces alone would crush the ship and everyone in it, exploding their organs… instantly!”

    Dampeners maybe, like something that will be invented when the make drives capable of that kind of acceleration.

    What you should really consider is…how is gun fire and explosions heard in space?? Sound does not travel in a vacumm.


  • Mad Myche

    G Forces require a gravity source, so once you escape the effects of the planetary gravity and are in free-space, the effects of g-force are minimized. Also, they would be accelerating with the ship and forces would be minimal on the body. Now the dilapidated ship is another story
    Space debris would not be able to interact with the ship, as the ship is not within normal space, tachyons and tardyons cannot interact, and if they could debris would be pushed out of the way as the shockwave approached
    As for being out of time, it geta a little more complicated than I can handle within my head. If anything you would expect them to travel into the past as time would need to catch up with them.
    And as far as time being distorted, as one can control their direction in a 3d space, one can control their direction in 4d space time.
    When it comes down to it, all matter has mass. All mass has gravity. All gravity bends time.
    An atomic clock in orbit runs faster than one on the surface… time is all relative to ones perspective, and the reference to ones frameset

  • Kevin Rubin

    I think it’s also partly that they’re traveling in Hyperspace, which has more to do with overlapping spaces, rather than merely going at a speed faster than light. They still arrive at their destination faster than light would if it went straight there…

    And as someone else pointed out, the computer does the navigation calculations to avoid going through larger objects, stars and things.

    Although it seems odd that we see pilots manually leaving hyperspace at the end of a journey, when you’d think the computer would calculate the end of it, plus if they’re traveling so fast the human error in stopping it would result in missing destinations…

  • Herbie Verstinks

    I think going 20, 30 years in the future is a bit off. If they traveled at that speed for say 5 years straight then with the time dilation they would be 20 years in the future.

    I don’t think they say how long they travel at those speeds in the movies though. If say for a couple hours they may be several days in the future.

    I’m just saying. I’m no physicist but I used to read a lot of books about space and time and the effects of the SOL on time travel. Fascinating stuff!