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The Starship Heart of Gold

Our take on the Starship Heart of Gold. Click here for a closer look inside the famous fictional spacecraft.

Lee Dempsey/HowStuffWorks

Here's the problem: Human lives are brief, and outer space is really freaking huge. In order to explore the cosmos in a reasonable fashion, we need to travel fast, which takes a toll at the gas pump.

We're talking silly amounts of power here, such as an infinite amount of energy to reach the speed of light (thanks, physics!) or the converted mass of Jupiter to achieve warp travel. So what we really need is a spaceship with a truly phenomenal power source.

The Starship Heart of Gold answers all these prayers, as it depends on what "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" author Douglas Adams called the Infinite Improbability Drive. Exact descriptions of the technology are somewhat sketchy, as the power source essentially thrives on a blend of theoretical quantum physics and random, surrealist nonsense.

According to Adams, it generates the "infinite improbability field needed to flip a spaceship across the mind-paralyzing distances between the farthest stars." The same technology, he explains, could also cause all the molecules in a person's undergarments to leap simultaneously one foot to the left.

Other side effects include hallucinations, mutations and the spawning of enormous marine animals. Hey, everything comes with a price.

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