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Warp Drive
July 28, 2008 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Putting the Warp into Warp Drive.
posted by homunculus (60 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously.
posted by homunculus at 6:26 PM on July 28, 2008


Nifty. It's hard to imagine where the energy would come from if it would take the entire mass of Jupiter converted to pure energy (e=mc2) to drive the ship. But one thing we can count on from history is mans ability to harness and use ever greater amounts of energy over time, sort of a Moores Law, it might be possible in the far future.
posted by stbalbach at 6:48 PM on July 28, 2008


Thanks... call me when they build a replicator to go along with it. Cause it's hungry out there in space.
posted by not_on_display at 6:48 PM on July 28, 2008


Warp engine based on string theory? After you. No, I insist.
posted by pompomtom at 6:48 PM on July 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but these HOPELESS NERDS still need to figure out transwarp conduits and develop the necessary structural integrity field technology if they wanna get a leg up on the Borg--to say nothing of Species 116's method of propulsion.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:50 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.
posted by tkolar at 6:53 PM on July 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


So basically, the fanwanking that makes FTL possible in star trek is theoretically possible in real life. Last I checked this isn't really big news. Of course it would theoretically work, it just requires a prohibitively large amount of energy to do it. That describes a lot of Star Trek's technology.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:55 PM on July 28, 2008


That's where energy derived from timecubes comes into it.
posted by Artw at 7:02 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: "Yeah, but these HOPELESS NERDS still need to figure out transwarp conduits and develop the necessary structural integrity field technology if they wanna get a leg up on the Borg--to say nothing of Species 116's method of propulsion."

Do you mean Species 8472?

Shit. I think I just outed myself.
posted by Science! at 7:04 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Traveling faster than light isn't really big news? I guess that would make sense as a statement from someone FROM THE FUTURE!!! (and I claim my $5)

Wait. "The fabric of space has moved faster than light before, says Cleaver, right after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded faster than the speed of light." Call me old-fashioned, but I thought "information" couldn't move faster than light. If I can send a ship, or a fragment of spacetime, faster than light carrying a message....?

These spacekids are all over my spacelawn.
posted by DU at 7:05 PM on July 28, 2008


It'll be some blah-blah-blah about quantum teleportation next, and then it'll turn out you can't use it for anything useful.
posted by Artw at 7:07 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


[/NOT PHYSICIST]
posted by Artw at 7:12 PM on July 28, 2008


Science!: Nope. But them too!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:20 PM on July 28, 2008


The pilot inside the bubble is causally disconnected with its walls and cannot carry out any action outside the bubble.

well, crap.
posted by the painkiller at 7:20 PM on July 28, 2008


> So basically, the fanwanking that makes FTL possible in star trek is theoretically possible in real life.

No way. And it's not just the energy requirements. There are theoretical limitations on how it'd be employed. Much like a tunnel through a mountain, you can't use it for the first trip somewhere, only for subsequent trips. There goes Star Trekking.

Not to mention the practical limitations. For example, you can't steer, which complicates the already tricky problem of avoiding crashing into obstacles and lethal radiation in your path. Guess you'll need disposable vehicles and occupants.

This isn't faster than light "travel" for any meaningful definition of the word. Neat theoretical physics, though!
posted by sdodd at 7:22 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay so you create a 'warp bubble' and your space ship is inside this alleged bubble. Even though the space ship itself is allegedly not moving, this bubble construct is simultaneously sliding downward faster than the speed of light through three dimensional space via distortions to speculative eleventh dimensional space (and nobody has bothered to call Sunny-11D space inhabitants and ask if they mind), and even if we could do all this, the energy it would take to pull all this off would take the entire planet of Jupiter processed into rocket fuel - per trip, mind you.

This is about as feasible and plausible as the moon being made out of green cheese. This isn't science! This is a very badly written episode of Quark!
posted by ZachsMind at 7:28 PM on July 28, 2008


Last I checked this isn't really big news.

Oh crap. From now on, I promise to only post BIG NEWS.
posted by homunculus at 7:30 PM on July 28, 2008


"Ahead Alcubierre factor three...." That has kind of a nice ring to it.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 7:33 PM on July 28, 2008


Many engineering advances are necessary before this becomes reality. If you'd like to help, I suggest advancing the state-of-the-art in areas such as: No way. And it's not just the energy requirements. There are theoretical limitations on how it'd be employed. Much like a tunnel through a mountain, you can't use it for the first trip somewhere, only for subsequent trips. There goes Star Trekking.

Is there something I'm missing? A constructed wormhole, or some sort of teleporter, those you need to get there at sublight first. I don't see why that's a requirement for this.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:34 PM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


ZachsMind: "Okay so you create a 'warp bubble' and your space ship is inside this alleged bubble. Even though the space ship itself is allegedly not moving, this bubble construct is simultaneously sliding downward faster than the speed of light through three dimensional space via distortions to speculative eleventh dimensional space (and nobody has bothered to call Sunny-11D space inhabitants and ask if they mind), and even if we could do all this, the energy it would take to pull all this off would take the entire planet of Jupiter processed into rocket fuel - per trip, mind you.

This is about as feasible and plausible as the moon being made out of green cheese. This isn't science! This is a very badly written episode of Quark!
"

Sure. Now. But when we stop dicking around wasting our time and money on ridiculous bush league energy sources like wind and solar, and develop into a Type III civilization burning Jupiter will be like flicking a Zippo is to us. Though probably without the ensuing pleasant nicotine rush, but we could work that out.
posted by Science! at 7:35 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I forgot to add: This is cool, homunculus, thanks for posting.

Perhaps it's worth nothing that these guys have the theory for how the warp propagates (and now maybe what's being warped), but not the theory for how to create the warp. Since the requisite condition can't be created, it'll never exist, so there is no FTL travel. Still.
posted by sdodd at 7:38 PM on July 28, 2008


We'd have better luck outfitting Arizona with a giant rocket aimed straight up, using heat from the Earth's core to power it, and telling every man, woman, and child in the world to "hold onto something."

*makes the childish sound of a balloon deflating*
posted by ZachsMind at 7:42 PM on July 28, 2008


Many engineering advances are necessary before this becomes reality

Not to mention that the inherent asymmetries will inevitably cause the starboard power coupling to undergo wear much, much faster than the port one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:47 PM on July 28, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim, yeah, that's implied in Krasnikov's work-around to the problem of using tachyonic matter (as described in the last link). Krasnikov's model is theoretically possible but has the limitation I described; using tachyonic matter doesn't have that limitation but we don't a theory for it. (I just prefer not to ignore the theoretically impossible requirements and pre-conditions of this FTL scheme when deciding whether it's theoretically possible or not.) Again: Still fun to discuss and speculate about.
posted by sdodd at 7:50 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This isn't science!

This is as science as science gets. What it isn't, is technology.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on July 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


Many engineering advances are necessary before this becomes reality. If you'd like to help, I suggest advancing the state-of-the-art in areas such as:

Modulating the frequencies
Emitting arbitrary particle streams from deflector dishes
Bypassing the main plasma conduits


You wanna to try reversin' the polarity, mate. That'll sort it out.
posted by Artw at 8:00 PM on July 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


The post needs an "ENGAGE!!" tag.
/goes back to reading "I am also Scotty"
posted by nudar at 8:12 PM on July 28, 2008


Tachyons are the source of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:15 PM on July 28, 2008


Warp drives are all very well, but what are we going to do when we get there? Man, I get bored being at the beach for fifteen minutes after a two hour drive. It's like, where's the booze?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:17 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


turgid, you can buy the t-shirt, cause you will have been there and done that.

...after that it's beer o'clock.
posted by nudar at 8:30 PM on July 28, 2008


In other news, there is an eleventh dimension.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:50 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I-I'm sorry. It's these tachyons. They're muddling things up...
posted by homunculus at 8:51 PM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


mr_crash_davis: "In other news, there is an eleventh dimension."

Where it's always beer o'clock?
posted by Science! at 8:59 PM on July 28, 2008


It's hard to imagine where the energy would come from if it would take the entire mass of Jupiter converted to pure energy (e=mc2) to drive the ship.

... which would make a fantastic premise for a Doctor Who plot.
posted by dhartung at 9:25 PM on July 28, 2008


Do you suppose if we took non-vintange champagne (sorry...sparkling white) with us on a warp trip, and then brought it back, it would be extra-tasty? Or does dark matter take some of the edge off? Also, one day I want to try and get a black hole drunk.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:28 PM on July 28, 2008


What if we got a pair of twins and sent one of them in the spaceship to the other side of the galaxy and back, with the sparkling wine, but they drank the wine enroute - would they still be able to tell the time?

What if it was two bottles?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:02 PM on July 28, 2008


They'd need a torch- for shining beams of light at each other. That's the kind of thing you do for fun in space. And a clock, probably.
posted by Artw at 10:10 PM on July 28, 2008


Oh, and nowadays Tachyons are apparently some boring quantum thing and not faster-than-light particles that travel backwards in time. Bummer.
posted by Artw at 10:13 PM on July 28, 2008


"If you go flying back through time, and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact." - Jack Handey
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:14 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Today I learned that there are Wikipedia entries for individual episodes of Star Trek.
posted by longsleeves at 10:21 PM on July 28, 2008


Today I learned that there are Wikipedia entries for individual episodes of Star Trek.

You are WAY BEHIND THE TIMES. One of the ways Wikipedia is useful is that any episode of anything geeky gets an automatic pass through the generally-pernicious notability filter, so you can totally find out what episodes of TNG, X-Files, Babylon 5, etc. are worth watching.

Somewhat similarly, there is also an entry for every Beatles song, while songs by lesser but still great bands are only worthy of coverage, generally, if they were released as a single.

Generally, it's a problem with Wikipedia that they think there's a shortage of bits or something so that everything doesn't deserve similar coverage.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:36 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Spice makes interstellar travel possible, etc.
posted by basicchannel at 10:38 PM on July 28, 2008


Wikipedia archives absolutely everything, including deleted articles and the (often longer than the article) deletion discussions that go with them, so it's not that their running out of bits, it's more of a "fuck off and stop wasting our time".
posted by Artw at 10:39 PM on July 28, 2008


And, circling back around to the original conversation, Wikipedia is kinda the reason we want FTL ... stuff. Even if, as sdodd says above, you can't use it to do really really cool things like Star Trekking, you can still use it to do really cool things, like ansibles and other superluminary communication. If it's pie-in-the-sky you don't like, we can solve all manner of present infrastructure and logistics problems with that type of instantaneous, media independent communication, and that's just if there's no intelligent life out there. If there is, then it's our turn to broadcast a booming voice over a small tribe of whatevers, saying

"The secret is to bang the rocks together, guys."*



*Thanks, tkolar
posted by eclectist at 11:15 PM on July 28, 2008


Today I learned that there are Wikipedia entries for individual episodes of Star Trek.

even better, a wiki devoted to star trek.

but as for the warp drive science this is all important. the accepted wisdom is that einsten says FTL is impossible, end of discussion. apparently, there is evidence against that. maybe if enough quality scientists get working on it then there will be major advances in the theoretical side and then there can be practical advances in the technological side.
posted by Parallax.Error at 11:34 PM on July 28, 2008


Empath: "This is as science as science gets. What it isn't, is technology."

Quite the contrary, Empath. Theoretical Quantum Physics is veering dangerously into theology, and I'll tell you why.

The problem with theologies is you can't prove a negative. Does God exist? There is no scientific test that can be done to disprove the existence of God, and proof denies faith. Without faith, God is nothing.

Since it's currently impossible to test to see if there IS an 11th dimension beyond mathematical formulae, I argue that believing this warp bubble thing is even remotely possible, is just like believing in anything we can't scientifically prove. Alien life, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and a perfect dream mate for everyone, they all live in that 11th dimension just out of reach of science and Man.

This warp stuff is theoretical. It may even be quantum. However, it's not physics until you can prove it.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:31 AM on July 29, 2008


If it takes so much mass, just hook up one of those transdimensional mass shifters Megatron uses to change size from giant robot to hand-held gun.
posted by autodidact at 1:46 AM on July 29, 2008


"However, it's not physics until you can prove it."

It *has* been proven, mathematically. In the same way Hawking predicted the properties of black holes thru pure mathematics, long before they were actually detected in the real world.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:54 AM on July 29, 2008


> So basically, the fanwanking that makes FTL possible in star trek is theoretically possible in real life.

Great, I've now got an image of the engines of the Enterprise being crammed full with nerds holding pictures of Jeri Ryan fapping their way to infinity...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:55 AM on July 29, 2008


Thanks for sharing.
posted by pompomtom at 2:58 AM on July 29, 2008


Humm. I haven't read that much sci-fi but in Stanislaw Lem's "Fiasco," eating up one of Jupiter's moons was the way that earthlings used to get to another planet. (great book btw... manifest destiny meets human hubris)
posted by stratastar at 5:29 AM on July 29, 2008


It's hard to imagine where the energy would come from if it would take the entire mass of Jupiter converted to pure energy (e=mc2) to drive the ship.

Is there a better use for Jupiter, then? As far as I can tell, it pretty much just sits around on its great red spotted behind letting strange monoliths orbit around it...
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2008


If the 11th dimension could be shrunk behind the ship it would create a bubble of dark energy, the same dark energy that is causing the universe to speed up as time goes on. Expanding the 11th dimension in front of the ship would eventually cause it to decrease,

I just developed a new rule: Sufficiently advanced physics is indistinguishable from marijuana induced stoner-theory.
posted by quin at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is there a better use for Jupiter, then?

I was going to suggest that it protected the Earth from asteroid strikes by acting as a giant gravity well, but apparently that is no longer the conventional wisdom.
posted by quin at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2008


Fiasco is a good book, and I'm a big Lem fan, but I could never figure out what the hell he was thinking by having his space travelers bring big heavy books along (I think one of the characters even stands on several at one point, IIRC) instead of storing their data electronically.

And aliens used Jupiter for fuel back in the 1970s -- in Donald Moffat's The Jupiter Theft.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:08 PM on July 29, 2008


As far as I can tell, it pretty much just sits around on its great red spotted behind letting strange monoliths orbit around it...

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS, EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE. USE THEM TOGETHER. USE THEM IN PEACE.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:59 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not to mention the practical limitations. For example, you can't steer, which complicates the already tricky problem of avoiding crashing into obstacles and lethal radiation in your path. Guess you'll need disposable vehicles and occupants.

Pshaw, only if they're doing it wrong. You've just got to do the calculations, then:

"Three ... two ... one ... jump!"
posted by chuq at 10:33 AM on July 31, 2008


Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2008


In other news: Physicists spooked by faster-than-light information transfer
posted by homunculus at 3:19 PM on August 13, 2008


Four Reasons Not to Give Up on Interstellar Travel
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2008


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