Thursday, September 20, 2012

Warp Drive...Possible? More-so Than We Previously Thought!

Ian Steadman, writing for Wired UK, has penned an article that if not blowing my socks off, really set me up and take notice!

 Ian writes that NASA scientists think that the concept of FTL may just be available to future generations.

 Back in 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre demonstrated that warp speed was, on paper at least, theoretically possible. However, one of the major drawbacks was the assumption that Alcubierre's drive required the mass/energy conversion equivalent to that of a gas giant of roughly the size of Jupiter!


(Now this renders the drive impossible, but my thinking is that this is stunningly efficient. Now here is my reasoning, discounting warp for the moment, Light has been used as the universal speed limit. Though clearly not infinitely fast, it takes a prodigious amount of energy to reach C. Matter of fact, given any starting point speed and then factoring the energy it took to accelerate to that speed. Now doubling that speed does not take twice the energy but 4x, it soon becomes apparent that even an incremental increase would require more than all the energy available in the Universe. Anytime you could go faster than light on just the energy/mass of a planet like Jupiter is very efficient.)


Now Harold White, a scientist from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, has revealed at a Sept. 14 space symposium that his team has calculated that the amount of energy required to create an Alcubierre drive may be far smaller than first estimated.


Those of you that have been with the blog for some time remember that we have on occasion discussed various drives like an Alcubierre.


The main argument against ftl is that nothing can travel faster than C ( information may be the one exception....but lets stay within the realms of star ships and such) So the trick is, how do you keep a ship in normal space but move it around at super-luminal speeds. Alcubierre's drive "compresses" space ahead of the ship and expands it behind, with the net effect of a "trough" between the two wave fronts. Inside the normal space, the ship would travel in normal space/time, but the normal area between the two warped areas could be moved around at speeds far above C. (It starts to sound very much like the Enterprise's warp drive. Their "Warp Field" could very well have been this normal space maintained inside of of the warp "waves" fore and aft)

As the article points out, if you change the "shape" of the warp field, you greatly reduce the energy expenditures. Alcubierre's engine called for a globe and where White's team has differed is to use a "doughnut" shaped field in their equations.

Still, the energy requirements are phenomenal and far outstrip any form of energy or generation we have at our disposal, at present.

Plus there still is the nagging problem that José Natário published in 2002. According to the Wikipedia article:
  • it would be impossible for the ship to send signals to the front of the bubble, meaning that crew members could not control, steer or stop the ship.

Oh my.....

Wired Article

4 comments:

Erik Long said...

troth or trough?

Beam Me Up said...

Erik
you are right of course....I am not sure why I left the letters out other than it was late and I kept fading...that sounds good, I will stick with that....!

kallamis said...

Need I say anything about where I stand here. I've been saying for years that it is all easier than any of us expect.

Beam Me Up said...

Oh I know! I know! But answer me this smart man...space is 3 dimensional, so tell me how in hell do you do a toroid in 3d answer is you don't! Space is not a body of water, you can not have 2 dimensional waves in space, so this one in front and one in back is patently ridiculous...good science fiction but piss poor physics! It is good for demonstration like a sheet with a rock in the middle to demonstrate gravity, but in reality gravity is three dimensional. And what, this rig is supposed to go from zero to flt instantly? Ummm just how many of Newton's laws are we allowed to break?