3. FASTER THAN LIGHT TRAVEL
Space opera type incidents seem to be common in this universe prior to our being on earth. The speed of light does not seem to interfere with ultra high speed travel between star systems.
Since it seemed to be an interesting challenge, I spent a good bit of time working over Einstein's theory of special relativity and the equations governing the space-time distortions that occur with near lightspeed travel.
I'm satisfied that the equations are correct and that there are distortions when observing something near light speed. These effects have been proven to some degree, but only in terms of observations from one frame of reference seeing a distortion when viewing something in another frame which has a great speed differential.
Einstein was very careful to say that he was only defining the observations and measurements made at near light speed, he does not state what is actually occurring in reality.
The standard view is that if you accelerate long and hard enough to reach 4 times the speed of light in a Newtonian system, what will really happen is that you will appear to be moving at very close to the speed of light. It would be something like .99 of light speed - the easy way to describe this is by saying that it has a tau factor or distortion of 4 to 1 (written as 1/4) and don't worry about the exact decimal number, but realize that it never reaches the speed of light but just keeps gaining on it by smaller and smaller fractions.
With this tau of 1/4, a spaceship would travel the 4 lightyears to alpha centuri in only 1 year by their own clocks. But instead of seeing anything moving faster than light, it will appear (from the ship) that the distance to alpha centuri has shrunk to only 1 lightyear.
According to the standard interpretation, which I believe to be incorrect, this space time contraction is an apparancy and the ship will take 4 years of our time to get there even though the crew will only age 1 year while traveling. The idea is that the time has actually distorted rather than considering it to be a measurement distortion. The textbook example is that if one of two twins travels on a fast moving spaceship he will end up younger than the one who remained on Earth.
This leads the astrophysicists into endless argument and overcomplexity. The first cop-out was to say that time here and on alpha centuri could not be synchronized. This holds true between Earth and the fast moving spaceship (and that is all that Einstein addressed), but it is false between Earth and Alpha Centuri (you can send clocks faster and slower and plot the time distortion and thereby synchronize at least within a few seconds - no room for 4 years of distortion).
The next cop-out was to blame it all on the acceleration period, because that is not modeled in the theory and thereby leaves room for things to happen. But if you accelerate many ships identically, and then let them all coast at the same speed, and have them decelerate in identical manners but at different times, they will have traveled different distances and have different cumulative distortions (1 year, 2 years, or whatever) and it does not seem logical to suppose that identical accelerations and decelerations could yield different adjustments, so we should discount whatever happens during the acceleration as being irrevalent to the problem even though it might well have its own strange behavior.
Then comes the problem of two ships both moving (and because there is no privileged frame, we can also recognize that a ship flying past the Earth can also be viewed as the Earth flying by a stationary ship). The true nature of the equations is that there is simply a speed differential and it doesn't matter which one is "moving" and which one is "stationary" because all is relative. According to the equations, both parties would see the other as slowing down. It is not a bi-directional distortion where one sees the other as slower and the other looks back and sees the first one as faster. Each is "slowed down" relative to the other.
Now the theorists really get carried away and start arguing about how one slowdown is real and the other is an apparancy. And it gets worse from there.
The simple view would be to consider it a simple measurement distortion, in which case the spaceship reaches Alpha Centuri in one year in our time system as well as in its own. Its just that they see us slow down (by 4 to 1) and distort, and we see them slow down and distort, but when they decelerate and land, everything gets back to normal. There has been no experiment which proves this either way.
Obviously my view is much simpler. And they know it is too, but they abandon it because of one little fly in the ointment.
Let's have a ship moving with a tau factor of 4 passing the Earth and headed for Alpha Centuri. We see the distance as 4 light years and get light and radio broadcasts that are 4 years old. The ship passing overhead sees the distance as 1 light year and gets light and radio that's only 1 year old. Note that there is no time travel here, they are getting it sooner than us, but they are not receiving it before it was sent.
This requires that the speed of light be a constant relative to the observer and not to the source. The common view is that this is obviously impossible because how would a photon, taking off from Alpha Centuri, know whether to go faster or slower depending on whether it was to be received by us or by the fast moving ship. It would imply an interaction between the observer and what he was seeing.
Unfortunately, Einstein did not like quantum mechanics. But the quantum theorists are quite sold on the idea that the observer is part of the equation.
One of the Quantum interpretations is that the photon takes off in all directions simultaneously and moves in a probability wave until it interacts with an observer, at which point the wave breaks down and becomes a real particle motion which will be found to have occurred between points A and B (but which was not real until the point of observation, because we can see the interference generated between the different probable paths that were all being traveled simultaneously - this has been proven experimentally).
If we take the conventional probability wave equation and add another factor representing the speed, which is also indeterminate until the moment of observation, it becomes possible to visualize a photon moving not only in all directions but also at all possible speeds until the moment of observation. And we constrain the interaction to only occur at the speed of light relative to the observer.
This gives us space travel without a speed of light barrier. And Einstein's equations become the tools needed to navigate at super high velocities.
Of course this still leaves us with the classical problems of acceleration and fuel etc. It takes a long time to build up speed. And even with continuous acceleration and some super tech to handle the problems of fuel and reaction mass, the trips will be slow. But then we have the interesting fact that traveling further does not take as long proportionately because we reach higher speeds at the same rate of acceleration. In this case, days of travel (at continuous acceleration) would be of much greater significance than the actual distances involved. Although Ron dismissed the whole light speed business as unimportant, he did come across this odd use of travel time (at some standardized acceleration rate) as a measure of distance in running space opera incidents.
Getting back to the subject of Scientology, all of the perception oriented OT drills of the early 50s tended to work on some interaction on the part of the observer. It didn't work to handle perception as a passive reception of something sent out by an uncontrolled source. What worked was things that involved the observer, such as pulling in the light waves, mocking up the object to be seen, or bouncing some sort of radar or flitter off of the objects.
But our results with perception drills always seemed to be marginal rather than spectacular (the rare spectacular exterior perceptions usually came from exteriorization drills etc. rather than working on perception directly). This implies that we were close but not quite on the mark. Perhaps further consideration of things like probability waves coming off of the source and being pulled into view might open up a new realm of drills that might produce more powerful results.