“So I Ran Out of Movies Three Weeks Ago”

ESD March 6th, 2629

IRIS San Jacinto

Interstellar space en route to Ryosh system

So I ran out of movies three weeks ago… I knew this trip would be tedious but it didn’t really hit me just how tedious it would be until then. Think about what I’m used to: until now, the farthest I’d ever been away from home at Jupiter L2 was the Trojans for my doctoral field research. I think it took a day and a half, all spent in a chair designed by a sadist with a particular distaste for leg room. For comparison, the Ryosh system is about 140 light years from Earth. Holy s—. I want to say the farthest Confederation colony (not counting outposts) is either Gamal or Shinasi, and even those are maybe 30-40 light years away from Sol. It’s still mind-bogglingly far for me but a gentle stroll down the street in comparison to the present situation.

I didn’t spend much time with astrophysics in school; as the old joke goes, anthropology is the last resort of people who wanted to be scientists but can’t do math. What I do know is that these survey ships are basically just a gigantic engine room with a cabin strapped on the front for what the designers roughly approximate to be the idea of “comfort”. In layman’s terms—which are my favorite terms when it comes to anything involving numbers more complicated than what I can fit comfortably on a quantitative analysis spreadsheet—this means that we can go really, really fast but that’s just about the only thing the ship is good for.

Now the Alcubierre Drive works by generating a sort of space-time bubble around said ship, which lets us circumvent those unfortunate requirements of traditional physics that 1.) no object travel faster than the speed of light and 2.) if it’s going to try to get close, that the increasing acceleration of said object must consume increasing amounts of energy on a bell curved function in a never-ending game of hide-and-go-seek with the asymptotic velocity that is c. At least that’s how it was explained to me when I bugged one of the engineers about how fast we’d be going on the way to the Ryosh system. I could be wrong but I’m an anthropologist, dammit, not a mathematician.

Now then. Designating the Earth Standard Calendar as a base frame of reference, our total trip is supposed to take 107 days, which, if you think about it, is something I shouldn’t even be complaining about. How long did it take sailing ships to cross the oceans on Earth a thousand years ago? Or how many years did the crew of the first manned mission to Jupiter have to sit around playing cards before they finally pulled into orbit? And they weren’t even travelling at relativistic speeds like we are. I’m looking at just over three months of time from Earth’s perspective, which comes down to a quantity of relative day/night cycles onboard the ship that I don’t feel qualified to try and calculate.

Suffice to say that it was supposed to give me plenty of time to organize my readings, finalize research designs that’ll probably go out the window anyway once I get on the ground, and yes, watch movies. At least that’s what I thought until I ran out of them. Now I have to do normal person things, like talk to people. Oh, the irony of a linguistics professor who lusts after the interpersonal communication of others but dreads it for herself.

I make no guarantees of success.


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