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Can an ion engine reach the speed of light?

6 Answers
If yes, why? If no, why?
I

It is not efficient to travel the speed of light. Nor effective. By creating a loop within laser light with enough power we could in theory travel faster than the speed of light. Just as an example the expansion of space is faster than the speed of light.

One can create enough gravity at a point in space to spin up space this spinning action will create a complex magnetic field this field will allow a space craft to travel though it.

Spinning up fields is a science that has been hidden by the power structure of the world because of the implications of undermining our every economic value of our society.

Think about the field emitting from a super massive black hole a beam of light emits from both sides this beam is contained within magnetic fields.

Travel within these fields and it is possible. A crude theory I am still working on but effective.

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M

I highly doubt an ion engine can reach the speed of light because it uses too much fuel too quickly. Man will have to think of another fuel alternative to make an object approach the speed of light. My hunch is if man can control tachions they can definitly reach the speed of light. But the question is how can you use it as a fuel. There is no scientific evidence that tachions will react to any other matter. I think man are thinking about energy in the wrong way. Instead, of physically moving an object from point A to point B -- one will have to figure out how to break human molecular particals up then use tachions or subatomic material to transfer it then assymble them back togther at the destination. Yes, you guessed it warping (beam me up scotty) this is the most efficient way to transfer any object great distances with out using too much energy. The problem is do we need a base at the destination? if so, I don't see this idea going anywhere because we must get to the destination the old fashion way first to install the base. And who is the say that if this ever succeeds and once the first organisms particles are tranferred to a destination that the organism will have same conscience. After all, you will be technically dead during the transfer!

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I

The answer to your question is: NO. There are no objects or devices which contain mass (and that's everything) which can also attain light speed.
Einstein showed us mathematically (and others have since proven his theories on the subject physically) that as an object approaches light speed it's mass, which for the sake of our discussion can be thought of as weight, increases exponentially. At 100% of light speed any object becomes infinitely massive.
So, before your theoretical ship can reach light speed it will have become too massive to move. In fact, at some point even the fuel including the nearly weightless ions will take on more mass than can be moved by the propulsion system.
A rough estimate goes like this:
At 99.9% of light speed your mass has increased 22times.
At 99.999% of light speed your mass is now 225times greater than when you started. Add a few more 9's and you are trying to push an object that is tens of thousands of times more massive than the propulsion system was designed to move.

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K

No, unfortunatly they can't. But they can get very, very close.

An ion engine works by grabbing an ion from its fuel reserve and then accelerating it and shooting it out the back of the engine. By accelerating the ion in the opposite direction of travel, an equal and opposite force pushes the engine forwards. Ion engines use extremely low amounts of fuel but can only generate a very small force. Because of this it takes a very long time to accelerate; though the top speed is equal in magnitude to the velocity of the ions exiting the engine, (so if you can shoot ions out the back at 100 000 mph, your max speed will be 100 000 mph).

The ions do have mass though, and because of this they can't travel at the speed of light, but can get very very close. So after a very, very, very long time (likely several thousand years) an ion engine could reach speeds extremely close to the speed of light.

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M

Simon, theoretically - of course an ion engine can get close to the speed of light but practically I don't think it will ever happen. I will say that - ion engines are the best answer to travel in space but again to really approach the speed of light we will need more energy then our own sun and then again it will not be at the speed of light because as it approaches light speed its weight increases requiring it to use more fuel. Anything that uses a finite amount of fuel can never reach the speed of light but it can become close. The only thing that can reach the speed of light is a natural force that does not require fuel.

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I

Do not listen to these people, I am sorry but they do not understand physics as I do.

No an Ion engine cannot reach the speed of light. Nothing but light can. E=MC squared. The mass would be too great.

However given enough time and space talking in the billions of years it could reach about 99 percent the speed of light. However that is far from the actual speed of light.

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