The marvelous telephone and television network that has now enmeshed the whole world, making all men neighbours, cannot be extended into space. It will never be possible to converse with anyone on another planet. Even with today's radio equipment, the messages will take minutes—sometimes hours—on their journey, because radio and light waves travel at the same limited speed of 186, 000 miles a second.
Twenty years from now you will be able to listen to a friend on Mars, but the words you hear will have left his mouth at least three minutes earlier, and your reply will take a corresponding time to reach him. In such circumstances, an exchange of verbal messages is possible—but not a conversation.
To a culture which has come to take instantaneous communication for granted, as part of the very structure of civilized life, this “time barrier” may have a profound psychological impact. It will be a perpetual reminder of universal laws and limitations against which not all our technology can ever prevail. For it seems as certain as anything can be that no signal—still less any material object—can ever travel faster than light.
The velocity of light is the ultimate speed limit, being part of the very structure of space and time. Within the narrow confines of the solar system, it will not handicap us too severely. At the worst, these will amount to twenty hours—the time it takes a radio signal to span the orbit of Pluto, the outer-most planet.
It is when we move out beyond the confines of the solar system that we come face to face with an altogether new order of cosmic reality. Even today, many otherwise educated men—like those savages who can count to three but lump together all numbers beyond four—cannot grasp the profound distinction between solar and stellar space. The first is the space enclosing our neighbouring worlds, the planets; the second is that which embraces those distant suns, the stars, and it is literally millions of times greater. There is no such abrupt change of scale in the terrestrial affairs.
Many conservative scientists, appalled by these cosmic gulfs, have denied that they can ever be crossed. Some people never learn; those who sixty years ago scoffed at the possibility of flight, and ten years ago laughed at the idea of travel to the planets, are now quite sure that the stars will always be beyond our reach. And again they are wrong, for they have failed to grasp the great lesson of our age—that if something is possible in theory, and no fundamental scientific laws oppose its realization, then sooner or later it will be achieved.
One day we shall discover a really efficient means of propelling our space vehicles. Every technical device is always developed to its limit and the ultimate speed for spaceships is the velocity of light. They will never reach that goal, but they will get very near it. And then the nearest star will be less than five years voyaging from the earth.[514 words]
11.For light to travel across the solar system, it will take_______.
[A] a year [B] nearly a day [C] two months [D] thirty minutes
12.The fact that it will never be possible to converse with someone on another planet shows that________
[A] radio messages do not travel fast enough
[B] no object can ever travel faster than light
[C] western culture has a special idea of communication
[D] certain universal laws cannot be prevailed against
13.Confronted with the new order of cosmic reality, many educated men________.
[A] become ignorant savage again [B] find the “time barrier” unbearable
[C] will not combine solar and stellar space[D] cannot adapt to the abrupt change of scale
14.Conservative scientists who deny that cosmic gulfs can ever be crossed will________
[A] laugh at the very idea of flight [B] learn a lesson as they did ten years ago
[C] find space travel beyond their reach[D] oppose the fundamental scientific laws
15.The author of the passage intends to show__________.
[A] the limitations of our technology [B] the vastness of the cosmic reality
[C] the prospect of planetary travel [D] the psychological impact of time and space
[A] 一年。 [B] 将近一天。 [C] 两个月。 [D] 30分钟。
[A] 无线电的传播速度不够快 [B] 没有物体能比光的速度快
[C] 西方文化有特别的交流观念[D] 某些普遍规律不能被战胜
[A] 又变成无知的野人 [B] 发现“时间局限性”不可容忍
[C] 将不会把太阳系和恒星系结合起来[D] 不能适应这种突然的大规模的变化
[A] 嘲笑飞行的想法 [B] 像10年前一样吸取教训
[C] 发现太空旅行非他们所能及[D] 反对基本的科学规律
[A] 我们技术的局限性 [B] 宇宙现实的广阔性
[C] 星际旅行的前景 [D] 时间和空间对心理上的影响