Advanced Human Super-communications Systems

Think of Faster Than Light (FTL) information transfer as the superhero of communication systems. Itís like having superpowers that take us beyond the capabilities of standard methods like radio communications. In this way, FTL communications can be considered super-communication.

Many would think this topic belongs to the realm of science fiction. My little corner of the internet is going to be devoted to showing you a glimpse of a future where faster than light (FTL) communications is not fiction but fact, based on science - much of which has already been discovered. But more important than fact is attitude. People are under the impression that science is a cold, dispassionate field, ruled by absolute logic and fact. Well, if humans weren't a part of the picture, this would probably be true. But science being a human endeavor, it must also deal with human passion as well. This includes belief systems, various emotions, attitude, temperament... all the things that make us human. These things can make progress in knowledge possible yet can also get in the way of progress at the same time. Who ever said being human was easy?

 

The science of FTL communications

So, how can FTL communication be considered a science? It must be rooted in physics. At its simplest, physics combines the study of the universe in terms of observed physical phenomena, which is called phenomenological physics, as well as attempting to explain how physical phenomena are possible, which is called theoretical physics. This is best illustrated by a simple example. If we see something, say smoke rising from a fire, that is a phenomena. Someone watching the smoke may begin to wonder how smoke can rise while everything else seems to fall... that leads to other observations. Birds can fly, even common insects have the ability to fly. If that person goes from simple observation to attempting to explain how this observed phenomena is possible, they are now theorizing. Maybe not too impressive at first, most weak theories are wrong. The individual may make a small model based on their idea, and slowly, learning from all their mistakes, eventually makes a model that can fly. Weak theories are called hypothesis, while strong theories that can stand the test of time and experimentation are called laws.

Phenomenological physics and theoretical physics are both impressive tools for understanding nature, but when combined, a powerful, new kind of tool is born, called the scientific method. The scientific method is so powerful for one main reason - it allows a person to make testable predictions. And, once you can test your hypothesis, you can methodically make corrections to it until it begins to describe reality! This is really important: You may begin with an idea that is mostly wrong, but over time you can build upon your idea until it becomes useful. Also, this process never really ends. It's possible that new knowledge can come along and sweep away theories that have been in use for centuries. This is exactly what happened when Einstein's theory of general relativity replaced Newton's (1642 - 1727) theory of gravity... although we still use good old Newton for most normal things, relativity must be used when you deal with large masses or speeds near the speed of light.

 

Aristotle, the thinking man's philosopher

Ancient peoples were certainly as intelligent as we, but they only used one or the other  - experiment, or thought, but not both combined. The ancient Greek philosophers did a lot of thinking. It was enough for them. Ask Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) about why smoke rises, and he would say it possessed a property called 'Levity', which caused it to rise. A rock would fall because it possessed the opposite property, 'Gravity', and since a larger rock was obviously more substantial than a smaller rock, the heavier rock would fall faster because it had more gravity than the smaller, lighter rock. Well, I guess that could be called a theory. Hey, for 15 centuries, Aristotle's book was the main text at any swanky university. Too bad he was mostly wrong. The "Big A"  certainly did a lot of thinking, but he did not wish to get his hands dirty, and never did an experiment, like picking up a rock and watching it fall from his hands. If he did he would have known his answer was wrong. A pebble doesn't fall all that much slower than a boulder, a bit slower yes, because of air resistance, but not by hundreds of times which is what he would have seen (had he been right) if he did something as simple as drop a few rocks...

 

Thomas Edison, graduate from the school of hard knocks

What about the opposite? Is it possible to do phenomenological physics without incorporating theory? Sure. If you see a bird fly, and make model bird after model bird, perhaps one will fly. But, you wont be able to explain how it flies, just that it does. This happens all the time. Something is discovered by accident, and developed by experimenting, trying many different combinations at random until it works - but still, the reason why it works remains unanswered. A contemporary example of this approach is the American inventor Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931).  He was an experimentalist, and he was proud of that fact. He is quoted as saying "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration".  And, this is a philosophy he lived by. To develop the electric light bulb, for example, he conducted literally thousands of experiments. To find a suitable long-lasting filament material, Edison and his team tested over six thousand different types of plant materials before settling on carbonized cotton thread (he even tested a strand of his own hair). For Edison, this brute force approach worked, and we have the incandescent light bulb today. But, though Edison could tell you why he settled on carbonized carbon thread as a filament material, he wouldn't be able to offer a reason why it worked so well, just that it did. I wonder what he would have thought of the Light Emitting Diode (LED) based bulbs we use today...

 

Tycho and Kepler, the not so dynamic duo

Tycho Brahe (1546 - 1601) was an astronomer before telescopes. He was a colorful character, who knew how to have fun while collecting observations on the heavens using instruments he built himself. Over his lifetime he amassed a tremendous amount of data on planetary positions - his aim was to somehow use this data to explain how objects like planets moved in the sky.  He was an excellent phenomenological scientist. But he lacked the theory to make use of the thousands of data points he had amassed. He couldn't go beyond a certain point with his own observations, and he knew it. So he hired an obscure German mathematician, Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630), to make some sense of  the numbers. The two would have made a good team, except for the fact that they didn't like each other very much. Tycho was a party man, and was perhaps a bit jealous of Kepler's smarts -- during his lifetime he fed Kepler only a small amount of his collection of data. Kepler, for his part, felt hobbled by both not being allowed to look at all the numbers, as well as Tycho's lifestyle. Kepler's motto was anything but "Party Hearty, Dude!" Only after Tycho's premature death (he died from a burst bladder because he had too many drinks at a party and didn't want to excuse himself for a few, err, private moments to take care of business). Well, after his death Kepler finally had access to all Tycho's data and after a few years of hair pulling, finally figured out planetary motion.

See, the problem was as much human as scientific. Both Tycho and Kepler had skills the other lacked, and both knew that they depended on the other.  It was a love - hate relationship ruled as much by human factors as scientific ones. It took a guy named Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) to finally gel the scientific method - he was both a theorist and an experimentalist.  He watched things move, and in doing so, made a really big discovery: nature can be defined by math. He did other things too, like develop an obscure toy into a telescope, and totally piss off really influential people, like the Pope, other scientists, and anybody else that came into his gun sights - eventually it would lead to trouble later in life -- you can't win against city hall, if you know what I mean... But Galileo will be remembered not only for his abrasiveness, but for finally melding both phenomenological and theoretical physics into the self correcting juggernaut we today call the Scientific Method . And that leads to another point, something worth NOT forgetting:

 

Nature doesn't do theory

Nature is phenomenological. Every discovery we have today is somewhere to be found in nature. We really invent nothing the natural universe we live in is not already using. Birds flew long before airplanes were developed. Bats, and various sea creatures used sonar ages before man came on the scene. Fireflies knew all about creating light long before Edison. Eels knew about electricity, Squids knew about jet propulsion, Pigeons knew about magnetic fields... everything we use or know about today was / is being used either by organic beings (animals), or inorganic processes long before man learned to control them. In some cases, since the beginning of the universe. We use theory to create a model of the world we can understand, but theory can change, and radically alter our future perception of the cosmos.

If FTL Communication is possible at all, it must already be here, used by the universe, and waiting for us to 'discover' it in a meaningful way.  Well now, guess what...