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Author Topic: 'Warp drive' may be more feasible than thought
JWatts
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Engage the Warp drive, Mr. Sulu....

quote:

A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel — a concept popularized in television's Star Trek — may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say.

A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, however subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.

Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially brining the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.

"There is hope," Harold "Sonny" White of NASA's Johnson Space Center said here Friday (Sept. 14) at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the challenges of interstellar spaceflight.

Warping space-time

An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind.

FoxNews

The phrase 'Alcubierre warp drive' is just totally geek cool.

quote:

White and his colleagues have begun experimenting with a mini version of the warp drive in their laboratory.

They set up what they call the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at the Johnson Space Center, essentially creating a laser interferometer that instigates micro versions of space-time warps.

"We're trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million," White said.

He called the project a "humble experiment" compared to what would be needed for a real warp drive, but said it represents a promising first step.


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Grant
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NASA's take

quote:
Any other sticky issues?

Yes... First, to create this effect, you’ll need a ring of negative energy wrapped around the ship, and lots of it too. It is still debated in physics whether negative energy can exist. Classical physics tends toward a "no," while quantum physics leans to a "maybe, yes." Second, you’ll need a way to control this effect to turn it on and off at will. This will be especially tricky since this warp effect is a separate effect from the ship. Third, all this assumes that this whole "warp" would indeed move faster than the speed of light. This is a big unknown. And fourth, if all the previous issues weren’t tough enough, these concepts evoke the same time-travel paradoxes as the wormhole concepts.


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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
NASA's take

quote:
Any other sticky issues?

Yes... First, to create this effect, you’ll need a ring of negative energy wrapped around the ship, and lots of it too. It is still debated in physics whether negative energy can exist. Classical physics tends toward a "no," while quantum physics leans to a "maybe, yes." Second, you’ll need a way to control this effect to turn it on and off at will. This will be especially tricky since this warp effect is a separate effect from the ship. Third, all this assumes that this whole "warp" would indeed move faster than the speed of light. This is a big unknown. And fourth, if all the previous issues weren’t tough enough, these concepts evoke the same time-travel paradoxes as the wormhole concepts.


I read a post by a physics student that says you don't necessarily need 'negative energy' to create the effect.

quote:

1) First and foremost, to those above worried that you need negative energy [e.g., mrmandias, roystgnr, John Schilling]…

While y’all are quite right that in the context of good ol’ General Relativity and Standard Model quantum field theory you need negative energy for warp drives and wormholes, White is hoping that physics-beyond-the-Standard-Model-and-General Relativity-in-good-ol’-3+1-dimensions will allow one to circumvent this need for negative energy because it’ll turn out that sufficiently large positive energy densities will create negative *pressure* a la the hypothetical “dark energy” driving the apparent acceleration of the universe’s expansion. Indeed, the experiment he talks about is simply a precision measurement of the speed of light travelling through a ring of capacitors (albeit capacitors presumably with a REALLY BIG electric field as opposed to your garden-variety Radio Shack type)



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Grant
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It's all Ἑλληνική to me. I don't have even close to the necessary background in physics to know, though I am basically a skeptic concerning FTL travel.
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Wayward Son
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At least you are familiar with the Greek alphabet. That's one step to understanding the physics... [Smile]
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msquared
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I was always good in math and bad in English. So when letters started turning up in my math, things went down hill from there.

Why do letters show up in math the further you go, but numbers do not show up in English the further you go? [Smile]

msquared

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
At least you are familiar with the Greek alphabet. That's one step to understanding the physics... [Smile]

I'm glad that learning it has finally paid off in impressing someone. I was beginning to believe that it was another useless skill, like a humanities degree. [Smile]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by msquared:
I was always good in math and bad in English. So when letters started turning up in my math, things went down hill from there.

Why do letters show up in math the further you go, but numbers do not show up in English the further you go?

People have tried that, but Numerology just hasn't turned out to be as useful as Algebra.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by msquared:
I was always good in math and bad in English. So when letters started turning up in my math, things went down hill from there.

Why do letters show up in math the further you go, but numbers do not show up in English the further you go?

People have tried that, but Numerology just hasn't turned out to be as useful as Algebra.
[LOL]
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by msquared:
I was always good in math and bad in English. So when letters started turning up in my math, things went down hill from there.

Why do letters show up in math the further you go, but numbers do not show up in English the further you go? [Smile]

msquared

Depends which direction you go. Go far enough in English in the Medieval lit direction, and you'll end up reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in classic Chaucer-era NORTHERN English, which means, among other things, that you have to learn two new letters of the alphabet, edh http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eth and th http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_dental_fricative [I forget what that symbol was]. More to the point of your question, the Gawain poet will, if you're paying very careful attention, teach you that numerology can diddle poetry on a good day.
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Pyrtolin
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You may be thinking of thorn Þ:
http://tinyurl.com/9onyho3 (Wikipedia, but there are parentheses in the link, which the board doesn't like.)

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Pete at Home
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Yes! Thorn! That's it! Thank you. Brings me back. Anyway, if anyone cares to hear about the numerology in advanced English, and Gawain in particular, I do remember that part of my medieval lit class 15 years ago. Although IMO the Gawain story is no less delightful if you read it and entirely miss the numerological connection... the numerology doesn't IMO become interesting unless you take it in the context of the Pearl story which appears on the same manuscript as Gawain.
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