Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Could NASA Really Build an FTL Drive?

For those of you that follow cutting edge physics, Harold White is no stranger.  For those of us a bit further back on the bell curve..... White announced last month that he and a team of NASA scientists  had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive.

White's drive would be based on an Alcubierre type of drive which I last talked about back in September here

Basically the Alcubierre drive accomplishes faster than light and still adhering to the universal speed limit by maintaining a bubble of real time around a ship.  Then warping space before and after the bubble to "push" it through real space time at supra-luminal speeds. 

The thinking is that nothing can exceed light speed in real space, but space can be compressed and expanded at any rate.  So if the expanding space behind pushed you into the compressed space ahead, you speed would not change but your "relative" speed would exceed that of light.  

So far thought it remains a theory only.  Check out the IO9 article here 


kallamis said...

I still say it can be done. And I'm still saying it is going to be a lot simpler than we think it is. Personally, I think it would be a lot easier to get to that point, than it will be to then get out of it and stop. One mistake on stopping or slowing, and your ship becomes microscopic particles of space.
I'm not sure we have a power source capable of this kind of energy output though. I doubt that nuclear would be able to do it.
But I will also say this as well. No way in hell would I be on that test flight. I'm gutsy, I'm not that gutsy.
We will figure this out eventually, but then the question arises will they tell us when they do it? That's the bigger question.
How many years would we have it, before the public was told about it.

Beam Me Up said...

Kall, power really is the deal breaker. Even if we call it a localized event, it would require a ferocious amount of energy, something I would hazard in the realm of a small black hole, which brings a whole new set of problems.

kallamis said...

I have thought about this before. Now I'm not a physics master by any means. I'm just an old back yard experimenter. But, what if we don't try to sustain the power.
What if we jump drive it instead. A form of jump driving. Build the power in a burst to create the bubble, and jump the ship forward at the same time. As the power dies, the bubble will, for lack of a better word, evaporate, thereby allowing the ship to slow naturally, (maybe). Damn thing might be particles in space too. But even if it only held for a second or two, that would immediately open the entire solar system up to us. More so anyway than it is now.
I still think magnetic's need to be involved highly, but that's just my own idea here.

Beam Me Up said...

That is exactly how a strobe works it's magic, however there is no savings to be had. A much higher is possible but for a much shorter duty cycle. Ultimately someone mentions antimatter because of it's efficiency at converting matter to energy. The downside there is that it is frightfully difficult to make. All the antimatter ever produced by man since he has had the technology could easily fit on the point of a needle with most of the area still empty. Quite literately a few thousand anti-protons. Barely enough to study. I have heard estimates that it would take to the end of the universe to produce a few ounces. So even one of the purest forms of energy is really not a viable options. So we are still stuck...

kallamis said...

The sun produces anti-matter as well I understand, but collecting it would prove to be quite , well, lets say interesting experiment.
One that this time, I don't think I'd want to take part in. That's why I hardly ever bring it up in a real science conversation unless we are wandering into the that area somehow.
Maybe one of these days we'll figure it out, and be able to make it easier, and much much much cheaper, and in greater quantities.
Just keep it away from people like me. Seriously. People like me make things go boom. And we don't even have to try, it just happens.

Beam Me Up said...

Going to have to call you on that Kall. The fusion going on in the center of the sun is no where near "hot" enough to generate antimatter.

Temperatures at the core would have to be several times hotter than they are, which would also indicate that the most massive stars in the universe which are 300 time larger than our sun are not capable either.

On the flip side though, I wonder that once these super massive stars go off main sequence and finally go supernova, if the temps and pressure are sufficient to generate antimatter protons

kallamis said...

I don't remember if they were even talking about our sun, or when. It was something I read over a year ago somewhere, and I have no idea where or when. And it wasn't with the core if I remember. It was something about solar flares, or something, or a way to do something there for anti matter production. Like I say, I don't remember exactly what or where.
It was probably one of my 4am off course of where I started at 1am reading jaunts.
Without actually remembering what I read, I can't exactly find it again, to even verify what it was. That sucks too, cause I really wish I could remember. I think there was something there I wanted to use in a game.