If hydrogen wasn't the lightest element?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Solarbaby, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Solarbaby

    Solarbaby Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Any Physicists online who could help me with a quandry?

    I was recently watching a rather odd horror called Smiley. It was a low budget cheese fest. However, it had a professor who had some interesting scientific theories that were of a quality far above the rest of the script and one in particular struck my imagination.

    I'm currently writing a spin off animated trek series that is going to take place mostly in another galaxy. And I wanted to have a side effect of the galaxy is an unknown force that stops the replicators working.

    One of the things the professor in SMiley said was what if Hydrogen wasn't the atomically lightest element. it would throw the universe to chaos.

    What would happen if starfleet discovered a galaxy where there were other elements before hydrogen in the periodic table. Could I use to this explain why replicators don't work? In this galaxy the elements atomic weights are all in different places on the periodic table- hence the replicators cannot reassemble matter.

    Would this have more drastic side effects? Transporters? WOuld the crew and ship even stay together in its molecular bonds if the galaxy was so different?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    How could there be an element lighter than hydrogen? Elements are atoms -- nuclei of protons and neutrons orbited by electrons. A hydrogen nucleus is... one proton. Period. Since there are no free quarks, that's as light as a nucleus can possibly get. You might as well ask if it's possible to have a country with a population below one person. The only thing lower is zero.
     
  3. Solarbaby

    Solarbaby Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I didn't look at it that way. Obvious really. I was very tired watching Smiley and the idea just stuck in my head because of the way actor talked about the idea.

    Thanks Christopher
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There wouldn't need to be. Theoretically, quark matter (which is very bizzare and highly unstable) would be intrinsically lighter than hydrogen since particles composed of quark matter would lack protons or neutrons and would instead consist of electrons bound to positively-charged quarks.

    It would have some INCREDIBLY bizzare properties, which would depend on its condition, structure and stability. On the scifi side, Mass Effect's "Element Zero" is basically this, a substance that has the odd property of waring space when subjected to an electrical charge; on the alarmist side, there are some theories going around that quark matter is "metastable" such that ordinary matter that comes into contact with quark matter will immediately be converted into quark matter, and then immediately disintegrate (in some cases, deflagrate) since quark matter cannot sustain alot of the more complex chemical structures found in ordinary matter.
     
  5. Solarbaby

    Solarbaby Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  6. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    But then it's neither an atom or normal matter. Atom implies a singular unit of Protons, Neutron and Electrons as Chris said.

    "Protium" or Hydrogen-1, is the lightest possible atom. H+ (the Electron stripped away) is simply a Proton on it's own and no longer an atom.

    Or simply, less than 1 is 0, ie nothing.

    I know other exotic matter forms do behave in similar ways but they aren't by definition an atom, and usually are incredibly short lived or not compatible with normal matter in a safe way.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Right. Quark matter could exist, but it wouldn't constitute a chemical element. Elements, by definition, are atomic matter. Quark matter is something different.
     
  8. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    Yup, then again B-movies are always coming up with very strange and nonsensical science, it's part of their appeal and we've all gone along with it for most of them. :lol:
     
  9. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The universe works perfectly as it is. If the laws of physics could change at some places in the universe, we wouldn't exist. At every point and at every time, the laws of physics are consistent and never change.

    Which means that there can be no element lighter than Hydrogen, and there can be no place in the universe where Hydrogren is lighter than in other regions, and there was never a time (and there will never be a time) when Hydrogen was lighter than it is now. Speed of light is the same everywhere as well.

    But we still don't know what the hell Dark Matter is supposed to be, so that's a nice playground. For all we know at the moment, it could very well be giant amounts of cottage cheese.
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    To be fair, "Element Zero" was so named because it behaves like a pseudo-atom, with a quark structure in the center around which one or more electrons would orbit; it can be charged and it can be ionized, it can enter one of the normal phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas, though it's happiest as a gas or plasma) and it can form compounds with other elements both in its natural and refined state.

    Though it would have some very odd properties, I don't think its existence would change much about the laws of physics or the nature of reality as we know it. All the theoretical forms of quark matter can only form in or around neutron stars or black holes; in Mass Effect, Element Zero is deposited on the surfaces of planets and asteroids in the vicinity of supernova explosions. It would be, by its very nature, very difficult to find unless you were looking for it in exactly the right spot.

    OTOH, I've heard it theorized by some physicists that Dark Matter could easily be a form of electrically neutral quark matter in a long-term stable form that never got the chance to form real atoms and now never will. My customary response to all of these theories is "dark matter is bullshit" but this one deserves honorable mention for originality, IMO.
     
  11. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    BTW here is another photon torpedo case for you.

    In terms of Quark Matter: http://smu.edu/newsinfo/releases/01342.html

    In their new paper, the SMU researchers describe two seismic events with the linear pattern they were looking for. One event occurred on Oct. 22, 1993, when something entered the Earth off Antarctica and left it south of India .73 of a second later. The other occurred on Nov. 24, 1993, when an object entered south of Australia and exited the Earth near Antarctica .15 of a second later. The first event was recorded at seven monitoring stations in India, Australia, Bolivia and Turkey, and the second event was recorded at nine monitoring stations in Australia and Bolivia.
    “We can’t prove that this was strange quark matter, but that is the only explanation that has been offered so far,” Herrin said.


    Then too, there is the tetraneutron
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraneutron

    That's about as simple as it gets.
     
  12. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Replicators rearrange matter and do not transmute it. If so have the society technically too primitive to do so.
     
  13. at Quark's

    at Quark's Captain Captain

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    Well, for the purposes of writing that story, we could also postulate some, as of yet, undiscovered natural numbers between 0 and 1, existing only in that part of the universe ... ;)
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^You can make up all sorts of numbers that have no meaning as actual physical quantities, which is what we're talking about here. It's easy to say that 7 minus 12 equals -5, but if there are only 7 flowers in a garden, you can't pick 12 of them. If you're talking about the number of nucleons in an atom of a chemical element, then there is no meaningful number between 0 and 1. Sure, theoretically you can have something that's made of quarks rather than nucleons, as discussed above, but then it's not a chemical element, and the question is about what the lightest possible element is.
     
  15. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    Poul Anderson says in one of the Flandry novels that there are a huge number of rogue planets (planets not in a star system). That'd account for some of the missing matter.

    As for making the replicators not work, they're what the Reeves'Stevens' called transtator tech - based on subspace effects, like the shields, warp drive, transporter, etc. I'd say that either:
    A. You're not in another galaxy - you might think so, but you're actually in another universe. See Gene DeWeese's Final Nexus for an example of another universe's slightly different physics making problems for the heroes' ship. Or...
    B. It's not a physics problem. Software or hardware malfunction somewhere. You will have to explain when they finally fix it why it took so long and was so hard to diagnose.
    If you go with A, then the replicators will be joined by the warp engines, impulse engines, transporter, etc. in not working.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, Anderson may have made a lucky guess, but at the time he had no was of knowing that, so it doesn't make much sense to cite that as your evidence for the idea.

    However, there's no way that would be enough to account for the majority of the missing mass. If it were baryonic matter, there'd be a lot more light extinction from all the clutter in between the stars.


    The term "transtator" was introduced, and established as "the basis for every important piece of equipment that we have" (in Spock's words), in the TOS episode "A Piece of the Action" by David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon.
     
  17. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    Excuse me? Did I say it was evidence? I credited the source where I read the idea. If I were a scientist, I'd need evidence. This wasn't a theory, just an idea that, given some research, could plausibly become the basis of one.

    [/QUOTE]However, there's no way that would be enough to account for the majority of the missing mass. If it were baryonic matter, there'd be a lot more light extinction from all the clutter in between the stars.[/QUOTE] Didn't say it was, just that it potentially explains some of it.


    Yeah, I couldn't remember for certain if there was a reference on the show, but did remember the Reeves'Stevens' use of it. Still, if there's some change in physics that throws the replicators off, it'll throw off anything using transtators, IMO.
     
  18. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's not even true for planets ORBITING stars, why would you expect it to be true of large cold planets in interstellar space?

    Excitation is detectable for some types of matter in a diffuse state -- atomic hydrogen, for example -- which can be detected as it receives and then sheds an electron/photon from nearby energy sources. Excitation in a planetary atmosphere is harder to detect since 1) the planet itself re-absorbs alot of that energy and 2) it is a relatively small amount of energy being emitted from a VERY small point in distant space, below the resolution of most telescopes.

    Not neccesarily brown dwarfs, but jupiter or saturn-mass rogue planets wandering the galaxy is likely to be a fairly common situation, and some of those may be double or tripple planet formations orbiting each other. This would, of course, imply that most of the time a collapsing cloud of gas and dust would not achieve anywhere near enough density or temperature to actually fuse elements; even below brown dwarfs, there would be whole solar systems that form around a couple of large gas giants with no star to speak of. It's even possible that these cases are the vast majority of planetary systems in the galaxy and that they remain undetected only because our equipment for measuring gravitational lensing isn't precise enough to detect them.
     
  19. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Then too, there is this:

    Negative temperature may also have implications for cosmology. Dark energy, thought to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe, exerts negative pressure, which suggests it might have negative temperature – Schneider is currently discussing the idea with cosmologists.


    http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/01/negative-absolute-temperature-for.html
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Dark matter is at least a placeholder for an undetected datapoint that could be anything from non-baryonic matter to a really poor understanding of how gravity really works.

    Dark energy is a cosmological ass-pull intended to rescue a theory that has entirely ceased to make sense.