There It Was, Gone
To the editor of Madazine
I feel you might be interested to learn of an astonishing experience I have had. My reason for contacting your organ rather than any other is that I have had much pleasure from reading Madazine. Not only that but my astounding adventure was made possible by my conflating two things I found in your pages, namely certain technical aspects of the work of Professor Jopp and a comment made by the galactonaut, Dweedles. The former inspired me to produce a spaceship able to achieve Earth escape velocity with minimum effort, while the latter steered me towards the concept of tachyons, which until my exploit were regarded as only theoretical particles, moving at exclusively superluminary speeds.
Working with a range of simple everyday materials, I constructed a spaceship which I call the Tachycraft. I launched the vessel in secret and quickly got away from the Earth’s gravitational pull. After adroitly adjusting my controls, I found to my gratification that I was in the tachyonic world, where I discovered that one can travel any speed one likes, so long as it is faster than light. There is no need to resort to the spacewarps so beloved of science-fiction writers.
My objective was to visit a star I had spotted in a galaxy 5 billion* light-years from us. I calculated that this body was about six times as massive as the Sun. I got to my destination in what seemed like no time but was astonished to note that the star I sought wasn’t there, nor was the rest of the galaxy in which I had first seen it. I returned to the Earth very disappointed.
I am not prepared to divulge any technical details, either about the Tachycraft or my navigational methods, but I do feel that the world needs to know that our so-called cosmologists are clearly wrong in telling us where celestial bodies are located. It is high time for these supposed experts to return to their drawing boards and make greater efforts to get their figures right, in order to avoid more pointless journeys like the one I undertook. I feel that publication of this letter in Madazine might be helpful to other pioneers in the field of space travel.
* Please note that in the interests of wide understanding, I am employing this term in its currently most widely used sense, meaning one thousand million. I do not approve of this, but accept that I am now in a minority. I believe the point has been touched on elsewhere in Madazine.
Editorial response from Axel Griess: Oh, dear, what are we to say to you, Hanno? Well, quite a bit. First, your clearly contrived identity gives the game away. I remember that Hanno made an epic trip along the coast of Africa about two thousand four hundred years ago, and most of us know about the great Magellan voyage. Having tried to deceive us with an obviously spurious name, you then give us a tale full of holes.
First, there is no evidence that tachyons exist. They are found only in the fevered imagination of some fantasists. If such particles were real, I’m sure they would not have, as claimed in your letter, a seemingly infinite range of speeds beyond that of light. I think your Tachycraft is inappropriately named and I would rather think of it as the Tacky Craft.
Second, neither I nor anyone else will believe that you picked out a single star so far away. Even with the best equipment, you would have had a hard time trying to observe anything smaller than a whole galaxy at that distance. But let us suppose for argument’s sake that you defied all known technology and did what you claim to have done. You say the star in question was six times as massive as the Sun. Well, didn’t that give you a clue as to the futility of the preposterous journey you had in mind? It should have.
If an object of six times the Sun’s mass emitted light five billion years ago, it would have burned out far in the past, so you wouldn’t have found it. Also, a star of that kind would, in coming to the end of its life, have collapsed and become a black hole. In that case, had you reached its location, it would have gobbled you up – which would have spared the rest of us your load of bunkum.
Finally, you appear to have completely failed to take into account the expansion of the Universe. By the time you got to the spot where you say the star was situated, it would have moved billions of light-years further from us, so you wouldn’t have found it anyway.
Hanno, or whatever your real name is, if you wish to perpetrate the hoax of the century, you will need to pay attention to details. However, I suggest you abandon any ideas you have about exploits in outer space and attempt something relatively unambitious, such as a totally unaided flight from a very tall building. AG
* * *