Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by EJD1984, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    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.



    [​IMG]
    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
     
  2. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    Look/Sound familiar? :)

    [​IMG]
     
  3. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    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?
     
  4. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

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    ^ some say none, others say it could be used as a time machine.
     
  5. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    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?
     
  6. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    At 10c, it would be about five months.
     
  7. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  8. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  9. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Heck, send modern versions of FTL carrier pigeons if everything else fails.
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  11. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  12. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  13. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

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    Humm, I soooo want to be optimistic here... but I'm not holding my breath on this one.
     
  14. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  15. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    And thus was solved the mystery of the gamma ray bursts.

    :devil:
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The article doesn't strongly indicate one way or the other, but I am fairly certain this type of drive would require constant acceleration to build up velocity. You can't simply turn it on and dial-a-speed; the drive causes forward motion through a mechanism not totally unlike gravity, which basically means you're constantly "falling" forward within the field.

    The key advantage for this drive is that because it produces a noninertial reference frame, its acceleration and energy curve isn't subject to the usual limits of special relativity.
     
  18. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

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    Oh that's simple, you fire a torpedo with its own warp drive back to Earth with a recorded message, it then drops out of warp into Earth orbit and broadcasts the recorded message in the em spectrum, so there is no real need for "subspace radio".
     
  19. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

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    I have to add that warp drive belongs in the realm of fantastic science fiction, that is the nonhard variety. In the Trek timeline I can see the Warp Drive being invented by Zepham Cochrain in 2063 or whenever, but I don't really expect the ability to distort the fabric of space-time with gravity and anti-gravity to come all that readily.

    An antigravity field would have its own implications, you know how gravity slows down time, well antigravity speeds it up or should do so if it behaves anything like gravity but with the - sign switched with a +.
     
  20. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    It seems the article in the OP puts it back into "hard" science fiction.
     

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