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Old October 3 2011, 03:03 PM   #31
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

UncleRice wrote: View Post
Ok, when I say proton mass, I don't mean proton particles, I'm thinking something akin to a proton star. Something maybe 6 inches in diameter and with the mass of a star because it's just protons(and maybe some neutrons to keep it from flying apart).
There is no such thing. It's a physical impossibility. The more protons you get together, the stronger their mutual electric repulsion becomes, and the more neutrons you need to bind them into a nucleus. That's why small nuclei have equal numbers of protons and neutrons (for instance, carbon has six of each), but heavier elements need considerably more neutrons than protons to be stable (for instance, gold has 79 protons and 118 neutrons, while Californium has 98 protons and 153 neutrons). So anything as large as you're suggesting would need far, far more neutrons than protons.

You must be thinking of a neutron star, a stellar remnant made largely of neutron-degenerate matter.

It's small enough to fit in a suitcase, but will seriously mess up a planet if someone warps one into the neighbourhood.
Not possible. A typical neutron star has a diameter of around 24 kilometers, give or take. Compress its mass even smaller and you get a black hole, and the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole the mass of the Sun would be 3 kilometers (or 6 km diameter). That is, the actual mass of the black hole would be point-sized, but its gravity would be so intense that anything within 3 kilometers would have to travel faster than light to escape it, so basically 3 km is the closest you can possibly get to it. (That's called the event horizon because no events can be seen beyond it.)

A chunk of neutron-degenerate matter small enough to fit in a suitcase would instantly re-expand to non-degenerate matter in a huge explosion. It couldn't exist apart from its star. It's possible that a strangelet of that size could be stable, but it would be far below stellar mass and thus wouldn't pose the planetary-scale hazard you suggest (not from its gravity alone, anyway).

I was looking for some rules for warp drive that vaguely agreed with real world physics that wasn't addressed in an episode or movie. What I've come up with is:

1: Gravity complicates warp fields, but competent engineering can over come it.
True, but the gravity of something as dense as a neutron star might be too difficult to compensate for. Not to mention the impracticality of building a warp drive capable of generating a bubble over 24 kilometers across.

2: Mass will make a ship sluggish and unresponsive even if you have the throttle wide open but you can still reach speeds that break the fabric of time, so be prepared to back up and get a run at it.
One person is claiming that mass will make a ship sluggish, but he's basing that on unreliable evidence and it doesn't make physical sense. I'd discount his claims if I were you.

And there's no "breaking the fabric of time." Just because you can put those words together in that order doesn't give them any actual meaning. What you're doing is generating a spacetime geometry that causes the piece of spacetime you occupy to alter its relationship to the universe around it. There's no actual speed involved at all.

3: Just because a proton mass fits inside a warp bubble, doesn't mean you can make the extra mass move.
No, 3: There's no such thing as a "proton mass." You're thinking of a neutron star, and there's no way it could reasonably fit inside a warp bubble.
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