What Hyperspace Would Really Look Like
Hollywood got it wrong. That's what a team of student scientists says about the depiction of Hyperspace travel in some of our favorite sci-fi movies. For decades, the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek have portrayed light speed travel with the streaked lines of stars whizzing past the cockpit. But according to the students at the University of Leicester, the heroes of our favorite space operas would have seen something quite different…and it is all because of a phenomenon know as 'Doppler Blueshift'.
Blueshift is caused by electromagnetic radiation and is the same phenomenon responsible for an ambulance siren seemingly changing pitch as it draws closer to the listener. Imagine that you could actually see a sound wave. If the source and end point of the noise were both static, the waves would ripple along in a nice, uniform fashion until they reached their goal. But if the source of the noise was travelling towards it's end point (a human's ear) the sound waves would start bunching up and distorting, hence why a siren sounds high pitched as it travels towards you, but low pitched as it moves away. It is for this same reason that the team of four graduate students believes that, should you be lucky enough to be in hyperspace, you would not see the uniform lines seen in the likes of Star Wars. Indeed, they believe that because of this blue shift distortion, light speed travelers would in fact see one blurred ball of light as per the image above.
So next time you watch Han and Chewie get their hyperdrive working in the nick of time, feel free to point out (in the geekiest manner possible) everything we've just shared with you today.