Why the goosebumps?

I had one of those crazy question moments today… why does Star Wars insist on having its light sabres held in the hands of the protagonists when they can also send objects flying around the room or where? Why can’t we have flying light sabres?

O.K. So Star Wars is pure fiction adventure and there have to be some limitations to what the protagonists can do… but on a more serious note the question why can lead you into some very seriously interesting thoughts.

Take for instance the recent news that physicists in Scotland have recently found a way of slowing light. Now I’m not talking about slowing light by passing it through materials here, where once that light returns to vacuum it will again be travelling at its vacuum speed. No I’m talking about photons (light particles) being permanently slowed down even after they return to vacuum. Seriously… see the news item here.

One serious consequence is that when they are measuring distances by light that need to be extremely accurate, then they have to ensure that that light is travelling at its top speed, or putting it another way, we need to check there are no dawdling photons lurking in our measurement set ups.

So if they can slow the speed of light by changing the shape of the photons, why can they speed up light by changing the shape of the photons?

In other news, we have ‘goosebumps’ of comet 67P like this…




See the article here. So those of you science fiction writers who have been writing cometary science fiction may have to change the descriptions, and I suspect in a few cases, the stories themselves. Apparently each of those goosebumps is about 3 metres and are now considered the fundamental building blocks of comets.

Yep… with all this new science coming along (see my blogs since Christmas), our understanding of the cosmos-scape is changing. And that means ideas with start to come to the fore for new hard(-ish) science fiction stories.

So far my predictions for 2015 science fiction


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