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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old September 18 2012, 01:16 PM   #1
EJD1984
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Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say
by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Assistant Managing Editor
Date: 17 September 2012
Space

HOUSTON — 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 bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.




A ring-shaped warp drive device could transport a football-shape starship (center) to effective speeds faster than light. The concept was first proposed by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre.
CREDIT: Harold White
"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. [Star Trek's Warp Drive: Are We There Yet? | Video]

Meanwhile, the starship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn't being warped at all.
"Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light," explained Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit group of scientists and engineers devoted to pursuing interstellar spaceflight. "But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light."

With this concept, the spacecraft would be able to achieve an effective speed of about 10 times the speed of light, all without breaking the cosmic speed limit.

The only problem is, previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter.

But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.


*Full Article at Link
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Old September 18 2012, 01:18 PM   #2
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

A ring-shaped warp drive device could transport a football-shape starship (center) to effective speeds faster than light.
Look/Sound familiar?

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Old September 18 2012, 01:27 PM   #3
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Interesting. Now all I need to do is gather up some exotic unobtanium, and I'll be spacefaring in no time! What relativistic effects does this method of space travel present on the passenger?
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Old September 18 2012, 01:53 PM   #4
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

^ some say none, others say it could be used as a time machine.
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Old September 18 2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

I am intrigued in that they say we could go faster than 10 times the speed of light in the article, or, rather the article, I read on Huffingtonpost. And, for us, to do this, we would be operating out of normal space, in the space-time continuum. Maybe the writers had gotten it right, after all?

If we could do this, than other species could do it too. Maybe we won't meet here on Earth, but in deep space.

Now, realistically, if we could go 3, 5, or event 10 times the speed of light, what would that mean in travel time, say, from Earth to Alpha Centauri?
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Old September 18 2012, 02:21 PM   #6
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

throwback wrote: View Post
Now, realistically, if we could go 3, 5, or event 10 times the speed of light, what would that mean in travel time, say, from Earth to Alpha Centauri?
At 10c, it would be about five months.
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Old September 18 2012, 02:24 PM   #7
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

throwback wrote: View Post
Now, realistically, if we could go 3, 5, or event 10 times the speed of light, what would that mean in travel time, say, from Earth to Alpha Centauri?
Alpha Centauri is a little more than 4 light years from Earth. Travelling at 10x c, you're still looking at a trip of 5 months.

EDIT: Sniped.
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Old September 18 2012, 03:07 PM   #8
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

The one issue I just thought of is with communication. Would you have to stop to make a transmission? If so, look at the time it would take for earth to receive the message, and time to get a reply.

Unless there is some sort of connected "subspace" theory that can be utilized. I can see a ship being nearly cutoff during most of the mission.
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Old September 18 2012, 03:21 PM   #9
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

EJD1984 wrote: View Post
The one issue I just thought of is with communication. Would you have to stop to make a transmission? If so, look at the time it would take for earth to receive the message, and time to get a reply.

Unless there is some sort of connected "subspace" theory that can be utilized. I can see a ship being nearly cutoff during most of the mission.
Heck, send modern versions of FTL carrier pigeons if everything else fails.
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Old September 18 2012, 03:34 PM   #10
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

EJD1984 wrote: View Post
The one issue I just thought of is with communication. Would you have to stop to make a transmission?
No, relativistically the speed of light remains constant in all reference frames, even if you're FTL with respect to the receiver. Message transit time is the same either way (you might want to stop accelerating for a while, though, in case the warp field scatters your radio signals). The thing is, your signal would be redshifted by such an insane degree that it might be below the detection threshold of anything that might be able to receive and decode it. 10c is enough of a doppler shift to go from x-rays to ULF radio, and that would have certain complications for message integrity.
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Old September 18 2012, 03:39 PM   #11
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

It also seems like since you are distorting space-time, that it could be used as a shield almost. Certainly anything coming from behind would have to overcome that huge barrier to hit your ship.
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Old September 18 2012, 04:21 PM   #12
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Hopefully if the experiments do verify the theory, and NASA will fast-track this program for a small test vehicle/probe.

I can see the initial uses as local to the solar system. Earth to Mars in 20 minuets - at a substantially reduced speed.
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Old September 18 2012, 04:32 PM   #13
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Humm, I soooo want to be optimistic here... but I'm not holding my breath on this one.
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Old September 18 2012, 04:41 PM   #14
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Good.
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Old September 18 2012, 04:44 PM   #15
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Re: Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Isn't the main problem that FTL travel using Alcubierre's method is causing a huge radiation surge in front of the ship, killing everything in front of it? I thought I read or heard about something like that.
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