Originally Posted by sisterhellfyre
Option 1A: Yes, they have visited, but not often or frequently as said in Option 1. It's not like Earth (as far as I know) is a galactic McDonald's drive-through or something.
The hangup many of us have about the possibility of visitation is the distance between stars and the immense amounts of time traveling by conventional means from here to there. I'd think we're being a bit short-sighted about that.
My feeling is that the next breakthrough in space travel, when we find it, will seem to come right out of left field somewhere. It'll be the work of a team, a department, maybe even a single scientist who's able to suspend her preconceptions about our understanding of physics to see a whole new way of doing things. Something that we just haven't seen yet, but the math adds up so that 2+3+1+1=7 as surely as 1+1+1+1+1+1+1=7.
My guess is that The Discovery will look something like quantum entanglement: the realization that distance is an illusion of scale, but the underlying... nature... of the beast is infinite and eternal on the near, short end as much as the long, far end. We're seeing first experiments already with quantum entanglements, where a variation in the motion of one particle instantly changes the motion of its entangled partner. The distance between them does not seem to matter. The current experiments have an eye toward possible development of quantum communications and computing. The theories in place now might be enough to support the development of a simple quantum Morse code.
Just as an off-hand, first-try thought: what would it mean to have instantaneous data transfer and command capabilities with the satellites studying Saturn? Quantum communications like that might not be subject to the speed of light limits. Remember that the speed of light is, by definition, the speed of light in relation to the observer and environment of the observation.
If the speed of light is a chalk streak across a chalkboard, does the speed of light apply to sending a ripple of energy through the chalkboard itself?
Whatever "The Discovery" proves to be, it's going to challenge (and possibly change) everything we think we know about ourselves and the universe. And all of a sudden, we just might find that Alpha Centauri really is "just around the corner and down four blocks" after all.
2 quick physics notes on that.
1. It has not been proven yet that entanglement does break non-locality given that the entangled particles have been able to exchange information about their states when they were created.
2. The speed of light is not relative to an observer but is identical for any reference frame, this is due to time dilation and length contraction.