NASA's Warp Drive - update

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by larryman, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. larryman

    larryman Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Popular Science article, dated: March 7, 2013.

    "Warp Factor"
    http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-03/warp-factor?single-page-view=true


    In the article it says...
    ""He’s not funded at a very high level in terms of what he’s trying to accomplish," [John] Applewhite says."

    Also note in the article the brief mention of "quantum vacuum plasma thruster (QVPT)" technology. It "uses quantum fluctuations in empty space as a fuel source, so that a spaceship propelled by a QVPT would not require propellant."
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  2. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Good article. Silly pictures.
     
  3. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If it's that easy, where are the aliens?
     
  4. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Somewhere more interesting?
     
  5. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In an underground bunker at area 51 in Nevada. ;)
     
  6. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Would general relativity still be an issue with a system like this?

    I imagine a radio transmission by the starship at the beginning of the journey in the direction of the destination, let's say Alpha Centauri.

    The message would take roughly 4 years, right?

    Now the warp ship is capable of doing it in 2 weeks by deforming the spacetime itself.
    Would that accelerate the travel time for the message itself, too, because the ship can never catch the message ever so the message must always get to the destination first?
     
  7. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^Um, why? It's old information either way. And no. relativity doesn't work like that.
     
  8. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'd imagine as soon as the message leaves the "bubble" of space that contains the spaceship, it'd continue travelling at normal light speed. So while yes for the split second that it takes to travel from the ship to the drive's event horizon it'd be travelling at FTL speeds (relative to the outside observer) it won't arrive anywhere ahead of the ship. Indeed, anyone receiving the message would probably experience some weird doppler shift effect. Indeed, if I'm figuring this right, if the receiver's position is in front of the ship, when the message does eventually get to them (long after the ship itself) it'd probably be completely back-to-front and the ship would be constantly over-taking the message as it's transmitted. It'd be sort of like firing a water pistol out of a super sonic jet...and about as useful.

    So in short, radio communications with an object travelling at FTL is just downright impractical. But then seeing where you're going at those speeds would be just as difficult since by the time you see an object, you're already on top of it. Not so much a problem with the big slow moving kind like stars and galaxies, but asteroids, comets and dust belts could be a serious hazard.

    AFAIK the best theoretical idea for practical two-way FTL communications is in manipulating twinned sets of quantum entangled particles. On the one hand the range is infinite (at least within this universe) and the only lag would be due to bandwidth limitations (since you can only "transmit" one binary bit of information per particle) but you'd only be able to communication through those two twinned nodes. So for every ship sent out, you'd need one dedicated communication node back on Earth and the only way for ships to talk to each other is to either have an extra node set per ship (which gets exponentially more complex the more ships in the fleet) or you're dependent on Earth to relay any messages back and forth, which will tie up the nodes at both ends.
     
  9. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    All over the place? Human history on Earth covers a small part of spacetime. The part of it when we were aware of the possibility of aliens is even smaller. It's so tiny that any contact in that time could have been easily missed.

    We've discounted all alien stories because we think aliens are not racing all over the galaxy with warp drives. If they are, however, we might need to revisit some formerly crazy stories.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    The aliens have the prime directive and are using their cloaking devices. They don't want to scare the meat, because it's really a cookbook. We're in like a zoo already, but we won't know for sure until our warp drive just bounces off the edge of the solar system. ;)
     
  11. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  12. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The theoretical possibility of FTL drive has never been a major factor is discounting crazy stories of alien encounters. The total lack of physical evidence and unreliability (or "craziness") of supposed witnesses is what invalidates most of it.
     
  13. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    First off, I wasn't talking about recent alien encounter stories, which are mostly discounted by the fact that are constantly watching the skies and we would have noticed anyone landing. In fact, except for the Wow! signal, any specific claim of alien contact is probably bullshit and could be right only by chance – these days anything is attributed to aliens, so if something was actually done by aliens, no doubt someone would have attributed it to them without actually having a clue.

    That being said, a huge part of the reason alien stories are that crazy is because we are rightfully assuming that there aren't any aliens anywhere close enough to visit us, both in distance and price of the journey. If that is not the case, the odds will be significantly changed, and while many of those stories will still remain crazy, they will be less so, and many would no longer be.

    This is particularly true for the more general ideas such as paleocontact or the possibility of alien spacecraft remains in the Solar System, etc. And if someone tells you they've dug out a fossilized warp engine from their backyard, you'd at least give them the benefit of the doubt to click on the link of the picture. Right now, I would not even keep on reading what they have to say.
     
  14. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    The galaxy is immense. The space between systems is immense. The space between planets is immense.

    We have craft operating in a narrow corridor of space, as they transit somewhere, to a planet or to the edge of our system. They aren't programmed to focus on anything outside of their programming.

    We have craft that scanned a narrow band of wavelengths on the EM spectrum, dependent on their mission parameters, or we have craft that scanned a narrow region of space, looking for planets.

    We are using communications technology that is based on operating on a planetary scale that has been modified for system scale operations, but in this capacity is limited. We have people who project that this technology will be superceded by a next generation of technology.

    With these factors, I doubt that we would be able to detect an alien spacecraft if it was parked near the Moon monitoring us.
     
  15. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You'd probably notice a spacecraft at a near-Moon orbit against the dark background. If you want it to hide it, the Moon surface would have been a better idea... Until we launched LRO that is. Now that doesn't quite work either.

    That leaves you with the only option of leaving it in plain sight – some of the near-Earth asteroids to be more specific. If the aliens are inventive enough, they can make sure that the energy it generates, gathers and releases won't make it stand out in comparison to other asteroids. Then make it transmit, say, neutrinos amplified and shifted to regular radio waves by the relay station on Pluto. Untraceable spy satellite.
     
  16. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    In Star Trek, the advanced Federation surveys pre-warp civilizations with cloaked technology. It's possible that an alien civilization could have done the same with our world.
     
  17. Brent

    Brent Admiral Admiral

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    It's also possible we are the only beings in the universe

    It's also possible the aliens are so far away they haven't gotten to us yet

    It's also possible the aliens aren't that technologically advanced

    It's also possible the aliens are only primordial goo at this stage

    It's also possible the aliens died out a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, and no longer exist

    It's also possible they are among us now

    It's also possible....

    you get the point
     
  18. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    Until we get an answer, possibilities is all that we have.

    I am reading some of the ancient Greek writings - the ones where they were attempting to explain what an earthquake is? or what is the sun made of?, you get the idea - well, anyway, I wonder if our writings on a piece of technology would resemble those writings, where we have some glimpse of the nature of it, but the full nature of it is elusive to us because we don't have the knowledge nor the tools to fully understand it. I keep reading in magazines about pieces of tech left behind by our ancestors for which we have no explanation of their function. How then will we understand a piece of advanced tech?

    I think it more likely that humans will find a way to wreck our planet's life-support systems before we develop a means to design and build a vessel with warp drive. (I didn't say interstellar spacecraft, for we have already built those. I am thinking of the Voyager and Pioneer probes.) And, it doesn't help that we have politicians who are obsessed with government spending, and will cut that spending even when it does help the nation and its people.
     
  19. JustAFriend

    JustAFriend Commodore Commodore

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    Where are the aliens?

    You have to first find out if there are any other spacefaring civilizations in our Galaxy.
    If the nearest one is a few dozen or so light-years away, fine. We might meet them.
    If there are only a few, the nearest neighbor may be thousands of light-years away.
    If it's just US, then the nearest neighbor may be in Andromeda, 2 MILLION light-years away.

    It's a depressing thought, but even with FTL drives there may not be any other races in this Galaxy with a technological civilization. So WE have to go out and build one....
     
  20. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Why should this thought be depressing?
    It means that, if we play our cards right, in ~ten thousand years, there will not be a single star in the night sky you can see with your naked eye that our descendants have not reached.

    As opposed to beings animalistic primitives (fit only to put in a zoo) to civilizations billions of years old, all of which, for some reason, insisting on hiding any and all evidence of their existence.