Dealing With the Problems First

The main problem in any attempt to create a FTL information transfer system can be traced  philosophically to relativity theory. Before Albert Einstein, scientists could assume that energy could move through space instantaneously, or at least at a speed so fast that it appeared to be instantly propagated. Since information can be carried using energy, say the energy of an electromagnetic field, information transfer could also benefit from this high speed - it makes sense, since any information you put into a wave will be carried at the same speed of the wave. To understand this better, think of a water wave for example. You can make water waves by swishing your hand in a swimming pool, or pond, and you can control the height of the wave by how hard you swish. You can call this a form of Amplitude Modulation, and it is analogous to how we can control the information in an electromagnetic wave.  We can Amplitude Modulate a water wave as well as an electromagnetic wave. Also, since water waves travel only a few feet per second, you would be limiting yourself speed-wise using water.  Not to mention the logistics of using water. You need to be near it, for one, and just how do you make a wave that can span an ocean? Well, you can drop an Asteroid into the Atlantic Ocean, but seriously folks, it's not impossible. Again, just look to nature... Whales use low frequency sound, which moves nicely through water, to hear other whales many hundreds, and even thousands of miles away. But, it is a slow way to talk across the big pond.... whales may not care, but we would. Thankfully, your A.M. radio is designed for the electromagnetic spectrum, and not the water spectrum of waves! At first, we didn't know just how fast electromagnetic waves were, only that they were fast. It was even a bit of a shock when we realized what we called Light was really an electromagnetic wave, and when, by doing experiments we found these EM (short for electromagnetic, of course) waves zipped by at a fast 186,000 miles per second, we were amazed. After all, 186,000 miles per second seemed fast. As an added bonus, it turned out electromagnetic waves were easy to manipulate, easily used to carry information in many ways. Of course, the fact still remained, the information they carried was bounded by the physical parameters of the waves used. The message could not go faster than the medium used to carry it. Still, we managed, creating a profitable information transfer technology based on these waves, which goes by the name of radio, television... wanna be a movie star? Get friendly with EM waves (Star, Light, get it? OK, bad pun).... but since electromagnetic radiation was light itself, we really lucked out by developing it into a communications medium that allowed us to literally talk at the speed of light, and watch re-runs of I Love Lucy. Yes, lucky indeed...

Then, Einstein did a naughty thing. He came up with a theory that showed how lightspeed was, in fact, the fastest speed in the universe. Energy itself, no matter what type, suffered from this limitation - it could go no faster. Since even solid objects like rockets, and bulldozers are really just a congealed type of energy, this limit was universal for everything (can you even imagine a bulldozer going that fast?), even solid matter.  Lightspeed was the top speed, and that, it seemed, was that. So what is the big deal, you may be asking? Isn't 186,000 miles per second fast enough? Well, that depends.... for planetary communications, maybe it is, but that is only because the earth is so small, compared to the rest of creation. At the speed of light, it takes a radio wave around 2 seconds to reach the Moon. It will take about 20 minutes for a signal to reach Mars when it is close to the Earth. The time lag only gets worse the farther out you go. And don't forget to double those numbers for two way communications. The recent probes we sent out to Mars, for example, especially that cute little robot (the mars rover) we landed on Mars a few years back,  had to have a computer built into it to make simple decisions, like to tell the robotic vehicle to stop when it reached the edge of a cliff. When the Mars planetary probes -- any and all of them -- began to land on Mars, we here on Earth could only hold our breath and wait -- either the probe would land or crash (and many probes did crash), and we wouldn't even know what happened for 20 or so minutes - however long it takes the EM wave to reach the Earth. We knew things went well when, at the appointed second, we began listening to the radio waves telling us descent was successful. If there was silence instead, we knew there was some sort of boo-boo. Ask any planetary scientist how much better our space program  would be if we could take control of the probe from here on Earth, and give it instructions in real-time? Even a probe that successfully lands, has as part of its cargo that computer that keeps it from running off the cliff... what if you could control the probe remotely from the Earth? You could dump the computer and use all the extra space for more experiment packages. Hey, that sounds like a good deal... only we can't do it because at large distances, like from here to Mars, the speed of light is a barrier, which only gets worse the farther away from Earth you go. Heck, even here on Earth the speed of light can get in the way. If your telephone call is routed through a satellite 22,000 miles above your head, you can begin to hear the delay in transmission. We perceive it as an uncomfortable pause in the conversation. So, even though the speed of light is fast, it just isn't fast enough. But Professor Einstein gave us the word - energy of any kind simply can't go any faster. Thank you, Albert. Oh, it really wasn't his fault. It's not fair to get upset at the messenger, when the message is so unpleasant, right?

In this case, it is easy to see where the bottleneck is - energy itself. Are there alternatives to using energy as a carrier of information? Yes, there are, but the news is both good and bad.