# Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by UncleRice, Oct 1, 2011.

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Maybe I can speak to this but not in the context of "canonically supported" information about warp drive.

So whether you take this to mean anything depends on whether you consider the post-Trek-developed concept of Alcubierre-derived "warp" drive concepts to be any authority on how trek warp drives would work. In other words, what I'm about to say is meaningless to this question if you don't think Trek warp drives work anything like our actual real life present day perception of how a warp drive would work.

I just came from that 100 Year Starship Symposium put on by DARPA and NASA-Ames in Orlando last weekend, and while I was there I saw a lecture by Dr. Harold White at NASA Glenn called "Warp Mechanics 101". It was a review of Alcubierre's warp drive metric, including energy density requirements, the mathematical formalism and even some updated mathematics on the subject. That's right, somebody from NASA Glenn is actually working on Alcubierre warp drive mathematics, albeit on his free time and not as part of his NASA-funded research.

But to the point - mass is immaterial to the power you need to create the warp bubble - but there's a caveat. Strictly speaking the only term that appears in the equations is the volume of the space that you need in the center of the bubble to be unperturbed; however, there's a field symmetry paradox wherein it becomes necessary to apply classical Newtonian momentum in the direction of intended travel before you switch on the warp field - because technically the field geometry has to be symmetric, but that would mean without any conventional momentum you wouldn't have a preferential displacement direction, you'd just head one way or the other. You fix that by using a conventional propulsion system to get velocity then go to warp. Incidentally, Trek always did this (probably without knowing why), as you'd generally have to be at impulse to go to warp, you couldn't just go to warp from standstill.

So how does this mean mass is important - well in a roundabout way, the math says that your 'apparent velocity' in a setup like this would be the product of the bubble's superluminal velocity and your Newtonian velocity, and since the acceleration you can impart to a body in space is dependent upon mass - ultimately your final velocity is going to vary inversely with the mass of the ship.

Incidentally, I thought I might pass on a tidbit of information - to say we have no idea how to create warp travel is not entirely accurate. Mathematically speaking it is understood that warping spacetime is done by negative energy densities or exotic matter densities. There have been laboratory scale experiments that have successfully measured negative energy density - see vacuum energy density, casimir forces, etc. These things aren't where they were 15 years ago - mysterious entries in Wikipedia. We know quite a bit more about them. My conversation with Dr. White after his lecture indicated they are trying to setup funding to conduct the first tabletop experiment verifying that spacetime can be warped with vacuum energy.

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^Wow, that's fascinating. When you say your effective superluminal (ESL) velocity is the product of realspace velocity and the warp velocity... would you be able to modify the warp velocity directly and only use realspace velocity to set your direction of movement, or would you have a fixed warp velocity component and need to accelerate in real space beforehand to set your warp speed? I.e. if you wanted to go twice as fast at warp, would you need to accelerate to twice the Newtonian velocity before engaging your warp field, or could you just thrust a little in the desired direction and then activate a warp field that's twice as strong?

And this does suggest that "Faster than light, no left or right" from the much-hated Voyager: "Fury" is actually true -- that you'd have to drop out of warp to change direction.

3. ### UncleRiceLieutenant Junior GradeRed Shirt

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Ok, yeah separating the functions of warp and forward movement into two things that follow there own set of rules makes sense. That would mean warping a neutron mass, even one the size of a shuttle, would be impossible due to the inertia involved in the equation.

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^Not really, because presumably any neutron star or strangelet would already have some intrinsic momentum. There is no "standing still" in space. Everything's orbiting something, even if it's the center of mass of the galaxy. You just couldn't maneuver it, that's all.

5. ### UncleRiceLieutenant Junior GradeRed Shirt

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Well there is putting something into warp, and putting something warp in a useful direction.

6. ### Lord ManitouCommanderRed Shirt

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The previous entries John O and Christopher are exploring what accelerating to warp speed might be. This is either using a large Newtonian vector and coupling it with quantum warp mechanics the other was to make a velocity vector and engage it with warp mechanics. Either way, John O is saying a large motor would be required. Lets say you have a small ship that specializes it carrying cargo with a high specific gravity. He is saying the '0' effected bubble that lies in the center of the sub-space field would have to be larger- which requires more specialized machinery.

7. ### blssdwlfCommodoreCommodore

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Feb 26, 2010
There was "Peak Performance" where the Hathaway jumped into warp to escape being blown up by the E-D's photon torpedoes. It would be an instance of going to warp from a standstill. Come to think of it, there are times where the Enterprise is being held still by a tractor beam and they attempt to flee by powering away with the warp engines. Not sure how that would be accounted for an alcubierre style drive.

8. ### Mayack419Lieutenant Junior GradeRed Shirt

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Warp drives create a sub-space field around the ship. This allows for faster than light travel because the same laws of physics do not apply to sub-space as they do to space. That is all.