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Queen's song '39 - the only pop song about relativity?

  1. Oct 11, 2011 #1
    Take a look at the lyrics to Queen's song '39, eg at http://www.elyricsworld.com/39_lyrics_queen.html

    Anyone know if there are any other pop songs about time dilation?

    Was Brian May showing off his Astronomy knowledge in a subtle way?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2011 #2


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    I guess he kind of did, but not to the extent of taking into consideration the acceleration that would be required to achieve that sort of time dilation in such a short distance?

    From the crew's perspective, most of that year would be spent accelerating up to light speed at a rate 4 times Earth gravity (almost 3 months), decelerating at 4 times Earth gravity (almost 3 months), turning around and accelerating back up to light speed at 4 times Earth gravity (almost 3 months), and decelerating at 4 g to arrive back at Earth. The remaining time would be spent traveling virtually at light speed (around 99 years Earth time, but almost no time crew time - I mean, if you're already going .99995 times the speed of light, what's another 10,000 m/sec or so?) and discovering and exploring the planet (at least a week adjusted upwards since you'd still have some time dilation while accelerating - just a lot, lot less).

    Or, the crew somehow endured even higher rates of acceleration to shorten up the time spent accelerating and extending the time spent travelling, discovering, and exploring.

    A human can maintain consciousness up to about 5 g, but could increase that up to 9 g with training and a pressure suit. Or, if they make sure they maintain a postition horizontal to the direction of acceleration, they could sustain up to 17 g for short periods (provided their orientation was "eyeballs in" vs "eyeballs out"). But "short periods" is usually measured in minutes instead of weeks.

    Of course, since we're talking about travelling close enough to the speed of light to get a 100:1 ratio in time dilation, then I guess designing a system to handle the acceleration involved is just as possible, so maybe I'm being bit nitpicky.

    (They should make a video of that song, though, and the video should show the effects of the guy inadvertantly orienting himself "eyeballs out" for the entire year.)
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  4. Oct 15, 2011 #3
    That's an interesting perspective on the acceleration and decceleration needed to acheive the round trip in 1 year of ship time.

    I recall seeing in a few sci-fi films (or maybe in a book?) that total immersion in a fluid greatly increases the tolerance to high-g forces. The fluid needs to provide nutrients and air for the crew of course, unless they are in some sort of suspended animation. The psychological effect on the crew immersed in the fluid could also be considerable.
  5. Oct 16, 2011 #4
    I didn't know anything about her until I saw her in a new scientist article, but apparently Björk's Biophilia album contains a lot of science.
    Oh, and I have thought about the whole acceleration thing, and have thus decided intergalactic travel is impossible, even ignoring the speed of light, if you include this factor. (Presuming you want them to resemble a human at the other end. Bioengineering and cyborg technology could solve this problem, of course, but they probably wouldn't even be human anymore at the end of it. When they get back, it could be like Dalek Invasion of Earth or something.)
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
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