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Physicists Work Out What Travelling At Light Speed Would Really Look Like

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Above: what travelling at hyper speed would really look like

It is a quirk of Hollywood and derivative science fiction that most of us are pretty familiar with what 'hyperspace' looks like, even though nobody's ever seen it.

However while travelling at the speed of light is an iconic image from wars both Star and Trek, but it's still firmly in the realm of fantasy.

Until now - sort of.

A group of researchers at the University of Leicester think they know what it looks like.

The team of physics graduate students showed that the wooshing, 'stretch' effect seen by Luke, Han et al when they jump to light speed would not actually occur.

Above: what 'hyper space' usually looks like

Instead, they have shown that the characters would instead see a single central disc of bright lights.

The Doppler effect would mean that no stars could be seen, because the wavelength of light from those stars would shift out of the visible spectrum. The central disk is simply the uniform Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which would be shifted into the visible.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the crew wouldn't see all this for very long. The team also found that the pressure placed on the ship would be roughly equivalent to that at the bottom of the ocean.

The four students behind the study were Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle, and Cameron Scoular.

"If the Millennium Falcon existed and really could travel that fast, sunglasses would certainly be advisable. On top of this, the ship would need something to protect the crew from harmful X-ray radiation," said Connors.

The full papers are available to read here and here.

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