I'm working on a science fiction story involving starships travelling about 95% of the speed of light. I wanted to have a reason for the starships to need to shield themselves against time dilation of any significant amount.
Primarily I want this for story-writing purposes, so that you could have fast starships—fast slower than light ships—without the complications caused by time dilation.
I'd like justify this with reasonably hard science... Could there potentially be any unwanted material effects due to time dilation and/or Lorentz contraction?
One idea is this; when a force—such as thrust from an engine—is applied to any material that force will propagate only at that material's speed of sound. Consequently as a starship accelerates, the atoms in the front will always be travelling a little bit slower than the atoms in the back (or vise versa if the ship has its engines in the front).
This would mean that the atoms nearest the engine would be experiencing slightly more time dilation than those further away. At high speeds with pronounced time dilation, could this lead to a weakening of the starship's structure?
While there might be no, or nearly no effects if space were a total vacuum. In practice space is full of rarefied gas and dust—not to mention the quantum vacuum.
This paper might be helpful in regards to extreme relativistic effects: link
I don't want the complications of time dilation but still want fast sublight starships. Is there any justification to screen out time dilation from a structural integrity stand point? Could time dilation and/or Lorentz contraction cause structural problems?