Flight Without Limits



Window to the World


Our universe, is a marvellous place with boundless potentials. But what is greater, the gigantic universe of infinite space, or its most precious gem, the human being?

The story is a chapter of my science fiction novel,  Flight without Limits. It presents in metaphor an advanced concept for which no physical basis is known to exist, and may never exist - a concept to traverse space instantly and without limits.  If this was possible, it would enable the vast physical distance in the universe to become effectively reduced to zero. While we may never be able to develop the capacity to travel physically in an instant to wherever we want to be, we should certainly have the potential to do this mentally. There exists no inherent inertia to resist the unfolding of profound scientific ideas, ideas of truth. We have seen countless cases in history where an advanced idea translated into deeds has transformed the world, like the works of Homer have, and Dante, Solon, Socrates, the discoveries in Christianity and Islam, and so on. 

In the story the metaphor of zero-distance space flight is mentally reflected in a double love affair that becomes compared with the vastness of the universe, whereby the human dimension comes to light as being grander than all the marvels in the heavens.

The story, Window to the World, is a love story from the novel, Flight without Limits, by Rolf A. F. Witzsche, written in the 1980s to explore mankind's innate capacity to overcome perceived 'impossible' barriers.



  "Can you remember how simple life was in Russia, compared to this?" I ask Natalia as we meet in the planetarium, as we often had before.

     Of course, we didn't have to meet there, in order to be together for intimacies. We have often met there, because the stars fascinated us. There was something about the stars that made everything equal. It made everything equal like that accident had done at a Soviet missile station that had released a missile. The missile had wiped out the north-eastern USA and had collapsed the USA overnight to the status of a third rate entity of no significance. The USA had ceased to matter from that day forward as if it had exited the Universe. 

None of that seemed significant anymore. It was behind us. The world had recovered, though millions had perished. In a round about way those terrible days had changed the world for the better. It had forced mankind to dig deep, which everyone had refused to do before so that the calamity was allowed to happen by default. This subsequent digging deep into its humanity had rescued mankind from a threat to its civilization that no one had have the courage to counter under the thumb of empires wanting to be. Ironically an accident had caused that change. For four thousand years mankind had been stuck under the thumb of empires, from the Brahmin Empire in early India that nearly destroyed a budding civilization, to the Persian Empire, the Roman and Byzantine Empire, to the Lombard banking empire, and the Venetian Empire that eventually became the British Empire, which staged the rise of the fascist empires in Europe, and then around the world. Mankind should have countered this trend with the strength of its inner resources. Mankind should have ended the reign of empires, the source for every war and for the black ages that have darkened history. Had mankind's inner resources been applied to gain its freedom as human beings, a long string of horrific tragedies could have been avoided. This simple reality, of course, was so much easier to recognize now, when seen from space where the human being is alone, a shining star in a vast void.

     Speaking of the celestial stars, the simple reality was that the same stars had shone over my home in Ohio that had also shone over Natalia's home in Kiev, where we first met. The stars had become a great equalizers in that respect, because even after all those years had passed, the stars had remained still the same, even when seen from far out in space and a vast distance from Earth. It appeared to me that our giant ship seemed utterly insignificant in those vast spaces of the Universe, while it was a marvel in our eyes, a marvel of marvels that brought us closer to infinity and also to the utter absurdity of our petty divisions. If the ship brought home nothing else, but this vision that unites man and the Universe, I felt that the effort of building the ship would be more than repaid.

     As the ship rotated on its axis, the planetarium opened up a grand view of an endless sea of thousands of distant lights that continuously rolled by our window. The greatest fascination, however, lay in that which we could not see, It came from the excitement of imagining and speculating what wonders lay beyond the tiny fraction of the Universe that our limited senses could behold, though even this tiny bit seemed infinite itself.

     Our view was limited by distant blue, red, green and yellow gas clouds that seemed to glow at various intensities in the far reaches of space. Other obstructions were dark clouds of dust that filter the light from the most distant places. They say that the distant stars would appear a billion times brighter without these clouds of dust. We would be able to see clusters of galaxies. Even the many millions of stars in our own galaxy would then make our heavens ablaze with a great brilliance. Perhaps we should be thankful that their brilliance is shrouded in dust, which also blocks the cosmic radiation that might be harmful at a million-times greater intensity.

     Our real life planetarium, that had been officially named The Thomas Jefferson Observatory, was always kept open to the 'public' whenever it wasn't required for navigating the ship or for mission related research. It was constructed somewhat like a theater. It consisted of a large room with twenty rows of seats that were facing towards a stage that was itself a giant mirror mounted over a window in the hull through which one could look out into space. Sometimes Natalia and I wondered if we were witnessing stars being created without being aware of it, or saw some dying out into oblivion. The thought was exciting, except we didn't know what to look for.

     Actually, we could only see a narrow band of space. When we crouched down at the view port and looked straight ahead, the sky appeared totally black. The blue shift that results from flying into the oncoming light compressed the light waves, even the heat waves, into an invisible 'color.' The same was true for light coming from the rear, which we were running away from. Its color was stretched into total invisibility by the so-called red shift. Only the light that came to us sideways didn't get stretched or compressed, which we weren't flying into or away from. Of course, these effects could be corrected electronically. Indeed, they were so in real-time fashion for the use by the bridge personnel.

     The planetarium could be linked into this electronic telescope system. The telescope itself resided inside a manoeuvrable module within the nose cone of the ship. At the planetarium the telescope's images were relayed to a screen mounted over to the top of the mirror. The images were the result of technological miracles provided by a high-speed, high-resolution video facility.

     At the planetarium, the telescope was programmable via a hand held console, when control was relinquished at the bridge. The images could be computer enhanced, clarified, and also be adjusted to include a much wider spectrum than visible light, or be filtered to a very narrow band of a single specific color. We could see the Andromeda Galaxy in marvellous detail, measure its energy distribution and do all sorts of fancy things that seemed limited only by one's imagination that itself appeared to be greatly enhanced by the capabilities of this marvel of technology.

     In a sense, Natalia and I realized that this was also what the ship's constitution was designed to do on the social level. It was the end product of a mental technology that allowed us to see and experience what would normally be hidden. Under its law the captain had no right to deny these broader horizons that came to the foreground by this new and wide open 'technology.'

     One thing was certain, and the famous quote of Jefferson that was inscribed into the right wall of the observatory was appropriately chosen in this sense. The quote was inscribed in gold letters. "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Nothing seemed more certain than this, because our ship was the living evidence that he had been right, and that he had been able to inspire humanity to adapt this attitude.

     There was also a second quote, by a modern poet, Baxter T. Tate, a poet and a humanitarian. He had contributed immensely during the worldwide fund raising for the ship. "In the free mind, origins and sanctions of ideas exist in the relations of people to each other, to their Universe, and within the interplay of thought that experience generates."

     I wondered at times if the captain had ever set foot into the planetarium and pondered over those words that were inscribed into its walls, as Natalia and I had.

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From the science fiction novel by Rolf A. F. Witzsche

Flight Without Limits
Page 7
Chapter 2 - Window to the World

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