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Warp Drive Might Be Less Impossible Than Previously Thought

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the warp-seven-engage dept.

Space 867

runner_one writes "Harold 'Sonny' White of NASA's Johnson Space Center said Friday (Sept. 14) at the 100 Year Starship Symposium that warp drive might be easier to achieve than earlier thought. The first 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, studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter. But recent calculations showed that if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring the warp drive could be powered by the energy of a mass as small as 500 kg. Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more."

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867 comments

But then, a slight solar wind... (5, Funny)

TorrentFox (1046862) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368913)

Eject the core!

use the Naquadria drive (4, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368997)

use the Naquadria drive

Re:use the Naquadria drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369377)

use the Naquadria drive

No, Naquadria is the unstable one, Naquadah is the one to use.
If it's good enough to power the stargate, it's good enough for us.

But is it impossible for me to get first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368915)

Gotta be fast.

What did I tell you? (5, Funny)

Cyphase (907627) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368927)

To all those anti-warp drive downers.. HAHAHAHA!!!!

Re:What did I tell you? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369127)

The energy argument was completely secondary. The main objection (which is barely touched on in the article) is that there are some fairly strong proofs that you need exotic matter in order to actually implement the drive. My understanding is that the space-time configuration necessary for the warp drive has been shown to be impossible to create without exotic matter.

Exotic matter, by definition, requires violations of the known laws of physics. In other words, the currently accepted laws of physics indicate that you need to break the laws of physics to make the drive work. This means that while the results in this article might have alleviated some secondary concerns, the main problem with this type of warp drive is still completely unaddressed.

Of course, there are some people who will waive their hands and say "abracadabra - QUANTUM MECHANICS" to try and get around the exotic matter problem. But you are now trying to combine general relativity with quantum effects, so there isn't any firm foundation to base your arguments on.

Re:What did I tell you? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369365)

there are some people who will waive their hands

This I have to see.

Re:What did I tell you? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369381)

What about string theory?

I'll believe it when I see... (4, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368941)

I'll believe it when I see time travelers from the future who have used their warp drives and FTL travel to come backward in time to tell us about it. (According to special relativity, the ability to travel faster than light is equivalent to the ability to travel backwards in time.)

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (5, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368975)

If this thing truly "warps" space (no idea if it does) you could travel at effectively faster than light speed through a vacuum while never actually accelerating past the speed of light doing it...

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1, Informative)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369041)

...while never actually accelerating past the speed of light doing it...

Does not matter. Special relativity does not make provisions how you travel. If you travel from point A in space to point B in space, be it by warp drive, be it by wormhole, be it by magic, faster than a beam of light could do it in vacuum, you travel ftl. And this means timetravel.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369201)

But that's the point of how warp drive works - you bend space so that you don't travel faster than light.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1, Informative)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369279)

*sigh* I know, it is hard to understand. But even if you use the warp drive you travel faster than light. The problems with time travel and the resulting paradoxes are not triggered by any kind of movement. Being at point A and suddenly being at point B in shorter time than a beam of light could go from A to B in vacuum is all that is needed.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369325)

Doesn't warp drive effectively change the distance between those two points? So point A and point B are closer together for a while, you move between them, then let them resume their original positions.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369379)

That is wrong.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369345)

But that's the point of how warp drive works - you bend space so that you don't travel faster than light.

You locally don't. The warp ship doesn't actually accelerate at all. This is how you get around the relativistic energy equation.

However, someone will observe you traveling faster than light, going from point A to point B faster than light would travel the same distance. If nobody sees you traveling faster than light, then how can you say you did so at all?

And the whole point of relativity is that the laws of physics have to hold everywhere. That observer, depending on their own velocity in space-time, potentially see you arrive at your destination before you left, violating causality according to them.

Given a few such warp ships, you could even arrange it so that that person would receive a message they had written and sent with you before they had actually written it. And then causality is broken for everyone.

But hey, maybe it's not a causal universe! I await their experiments.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369219)

...and there is the unlikely possibility that special relativity is an imperfect description of warp. Perhaps it would be impossible for warp to be a short trip?

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369251)

Wrong. If you're warping spacetime it's equivalent to moving the two points closer together. The problem with this is that there's stuff in that space, including the traveler. If you manage to do it, that wrinkle/pinch/wormhole/whatever you want to call it is going to have effects on everything around it. So either deal with travelers warping small chunks of spacetime as they travel (effectively capping them at near light speed since they'd have to spend time warping pace) or maintain wormholes by warping space between two gates, then moving one gate far away while maintaining the wormhole with insane amounts of energy.

Basically it's laughable even in theory, and you never get FTL and you never get time travel due to compressed space.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (3, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369253)

I don't think you quite understood—the relative motion would be FTL, but so is the relative motion of two beams of light going in opposite directions when measured from an absolute frame of reference. That gets you up to 2c. No time travel. Hilarious amounts of dilation, sure, but nothing wibbly-wobbly.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (4, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369255)

No.

In the real world, today, the phase velocity of light can easily exceed the speed of light in a vacuum. There is no time travel. There's no information transfer, either, due to the conditions of travel at that speed, but there's no time travel.

From
"On the other hand, what some physicists refer to as "apparent" or "effective" FTL[1][2][3][4] depends on the hypothesis that unusually distorted regions of spacetime might permit matter to reach distant locations in less time than light could in normal or undistorted spacetime. Although according to current theories matter is still required to travel subluminally with respect to the locally distorted spacetime region, *apparent* FTL is *not* excluded by general relativity."

Also worth reading the 'difficulties' of the 'worm bubble' effect, and how those difficulties might be addressed by this new research.

I'm not saying it's possible, but it's too soon to rule it out, either.

[section: not entirely serious, but...]
My personal take is that Gene Roddenberry was an alien whose goal was to nudge us in the generally correct direction without apparently doing so. To do this, he (it?) created a TV series called 'Star Trek' in which all advances we'd need were demonstrated to agile minds. Once it has been conceptualized, if it is possible, someone somewhere will eventually do it...
[/section]

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369263)

You seem to understand things better than I: I've always wondered what would happen if you were travelling 99.99999% of the speed of light and you shone a flashlight forward? Would the light trickle out (relative to you) or would it be normal. What is the speed of light relative to?

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (4, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369357)

This is actually one of the fundamental observations that led to relativity (and why the speed of light is the fastest information or energy can travel).

Light moves away from you at exactly the speed of light, regardless of what your velocity is. If you're travelling at 0.99c (relative to a "stationary" observer) and you shine a light forward, it looks like it's moving at speed c away from you. Shine a light backwards, looks like it's moving speed c away from you. To the stationary observer, both beams of light *also* look like they're travelling at exactly speed c (and you look like you're travelling at 0.99c). So the stationary observer's perception of how you and the beams of light are moving relative to one another is different from your perception of the same thing. (However, both are equally valid.)

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369359)

What is the speed of light relative to?

The OBSERVER!

To someone observing you travelling 99.999x, the light moves forward from you at c.
You also see the light move forward at c.

However, distances you measure are different from distances the other observer measures.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369375)

I think the beam of light would still travel away from you at the speed of light (by your perception), since the time dilation would slow down your personal time that much.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369383)

You seem to understand things better than I: I've always wondered what would happen if you were travelling 99.99999% of the speed of light and you shone a flashlight forward? Would the light trickle out (relative to you) or would it be normal. What is the speed of light relative to?

The speed of light is exactly the same in any reference frame (this is a postulate of Special Relativity, but is well confirmed by experiment). In other words, if you are traveling at 99.99999% the speed of light and shine a flashlight forward, that ray of light travels away from you at the speed of light. It also travels away from an observer at rest at the speed of light.

This is difficult for many people because they use Galilean transformations automatically to try and figure out relative velocities. However, Galilean transformations are only low energy approximations to the much more general Lorentz transformations, which properly described the above behavior. You should be able to find extensive discussions on Lorentz vs Galilean transforms with a google search.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368979)

As far as I understand it warp drive doesnt break the speed of light locally, so I recon no weird time reversal stuff can happen. Then again im no longer in physics so... beats me....

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369199)

i think they mean the space-time outside the craft's bubble. you could travel through space by pulling the fabric of time around you toward you -- but space is inseparable from time, so you could theoretically pull yourself toward the past or (relatively) distant future.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369243)

As far as I understand it warp drive doesnt break the speed of light locally, so I recon no weird time reversal stuff can happen.

In Relativity, traveling faster than light relative to any reference frame, via any method, presents problems with causality. And the whole point of a Warp Drive is that someone will agree that you went faster than light, and thus went backward in time.

When I last read about the Alcubierre drive, one relevant point that was mentioned was that the inside of the warp field is causally separated from the outside, which solves the problems of causality while in transit, but raises the question of how one starts or ends the journey.

The ridiculous amount of energy required was another problem, more of a practical "how would you do that?" issue rather than a "how is it even possibly in theory?" question.

But the thing is -- it may actually be possible to do this in our universe. And the assumptions of constant c and General Principle of Relativity may also be correct. Which may mean that the assumption of causality isn't. What a universe that would be.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (4, Insightful)

SciBrad (1119589) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369373)

That's only true in special relativity. In general relativity where you are dealing with the expansion or warping of space this constraint is not there globally. For example, objects that recede past our cosmic event horizon are moving away from us faster than the speed of light, but only because the space between us is expanding such that it appears that way. Locally nobody is traveling faster than light, but on a global scale this is essentially what is happening. That is why we have a cosmic event horizon. However the necessity of exotic matter, as alluded to in a previous comment puts a dampener on the whole thing sadly.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368989)

That's not the way this works... You don't go faster than the speed of light, you expand and contact space to move, this ship isn't actually moving even though you location changes

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (2)

Idbar (1034346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368995)

You non-believer. Don't you see that now it's not impossible, but perhaps just 99% impossible? You'll see!

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369011)

Maybe they don't want to talk to us.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

kaws (2589929) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369061)

But this isn't really talking about moving faster than the speed light. In fact, the actual space ship will be basically parked. It's the space around it that will be moving.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369109)

For timetravel according to special relativity it does not matter. If you reach a point B from a point A faster than a beam of light could do it in vacuum, you travel ftl.

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (3, Funny)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369191)

(Gigglesnort)

I am reminded of various tougne-in-cheek jests by physicists about the universe hating the LHC.

Perhaps if you activated the alcubierre drive, you could only ever travel outside the vehicle's light cone, but never return back to It, because "mysterious, seemingly random events" will always, without fail, prevent you from pressing the button?

Now there would be a funny thing to put in science fiction!

Re:I'll believe it when I see... (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369283)

You have no idea what the hell a warp drive is do you? The ship in question actually isn't moving. There are no infractions of the universal speed limit and thus no time-travel.

still a lot of energy (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368945)

So this is about 100 times human energy consumption.

Still that's a shocking reduction from the mass of Jupiter.

Re:still a lot of energy (5, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369071)

Agreed.

Other important caveats not listed are things like, duration of field perturbation, and effective field size.

If it takes 500kg of raw mass energy equiv, to send something the size of a football on an ftl hop for 1 sec, it is still very very impractical.

If we are talking something the size of manhattan island being shot at FTL for over a year for 500kg mass energy, things are difficult, but interesting.

This still doesn't sole several other noteworthy problems with the alcubiere metric though. Things like hawking radiation snowplowing on the event shock of the warp field, nuking the ship and everything around it when the field drops as the ship leaves FTL.

(Basically, the spacetime bubble the ship occupies behaves the same as the event horizon of a black hole, as far as virtual particle interactions are concerned. The pocket tearing past at ftl speed forces the particle pairs to become real, robbing energy from the warp field, and plastering radioative exotics all over the shock front. When the bubble collapses, that radiation gets released.)

If they can pull it off, alcubierre's metric would only be useful for short jumps, not continual cruising, making it impractical for visiting very distant objects. It would also be an energy hungy monster.

Re:still a lot of energy (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369271)

It's rather irrelevant how long the effect would last since time would become a joke as soon as a massive object was FTL. Which is the primary reason this entire exercise is nonsense.

Re:still a lot of energy (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369293)

it never said football-sized. it said football-shaped. like stewie or hey arnold. there's not enough information in the article to make any useful assumptions about how much energy it would take.

Re:still a lot of energy (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369257)

So this is about 100 times human energy consumption.

Still that's a shocking reduction from the mass of Jupiter.

It's already been done. FTL.

No I don't have proof, just the non-stop claims everywhere of how far ahead the black projects are.

Did I just accidentally wake up in the future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368955)

Cause this just seems like - wow.

beautiful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368963)

Yeah, for science. I could almost cry.

Can I have one? (4, Funny)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368969)

BTW: what is exactly ment with: warp drive could be powered by the energy of a mass as small as 500 kg In what time frame? I guess if you "annihilate" so much mass instantly ... you get indeed warped pretty hefty.

500 kg mass-energy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368973)

Yes, that's only the entire world's yearly electrical production in energy required. Much more possible. 10^19J.

What about the radiation burst? (5, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41368991)

Does this theory at all reduce the chance that when the Warp Drive ship arrives at its destination that it will emit a huge gamma ray burst [universetoday.com] ? This planet destroying side effect would sure put a damper on any kind of arrival party for the warp drive ship.

Re:What about the radiation burst? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369043)

This could probably be channelled in to the bubble through some fancy rotating warp bubble mechanism.

Then this could be converted to energy and mass storage for use in some possible future matter collider + replicator-like device.
With a small powerful matter smasher and fusor we could create any matter we needed as long as we have enough base materials.
This could create a ship that is almost entirely self-sufficient.

Of course, this is given that such a thing could be done, this is still all early work.

Re:What about the radiation burst? (2)

dtjohnson (102237) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369203)

No, while the early ships might be prone to the gamma ray bursts, the newer ships will have emission controls that will eliminate 99.99 percent of the gamma radiation.

Re:What about the radiation burst? (5, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369215)

"Hey look. An earthlike planet, with nobody living on it. What a coincidence."

"Signal the colony ship."

Re:What about the radiation burst? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369371)

Turn in your Geek Card. That's actually what the damn deflector dish is for -- Fuck man, it's like you weren't paying attention when you watched Star Trek.

No doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41368999)

I'm simply convinced that there is no way this massive universe is here without there being a practical way to travel it. There absolutely has to be a way.

Re:No doubt (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369065)

I'm simply convinced that there is no way this massive universe is here without there being a practical way to travel it. There absolutely has to be a way.

So you are an Intelligent Design believer?

Re:No doubt (2)

aled (228417) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369197)

I'm simply convinced that there is no way this massive universe is here without there being a practical way to travel it. There absolutely has to be a way.

So you are an Intelligent Design believer?

That would be Intelligent Traveling believer.

Re:No doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369277)

I'm simply convinced that there is no way this massive universe is here without there being a practical way to travel it. There absolutely has to be a way.

So you are an Intelligent Design believer?

Well, no, I just believe that the science is there, for whatever reason. Like, imagine a long time ago someone staring the ocean and thinking there's no way this huge ocean is here without a practical way to travel it - ships. Same with the sky - airplanes. So, to me, it's a reflection of past discoveries making possible what seemed impossible.

Why it all might be setup to make it all possible.....I leave that up to you.

Re:No doubt (1)

AdamWill (604569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369177)

sure there is. cryogenic freezing. hell of a lot more likely to be plausible than warp drives. you can get anywhere at walking speed if you or the universe doesn't die in the mean time...

Re:No doubt (1)

WillDraven (760005) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369311)

My bet is on something similar, but instead of freezing our bodies, we just upload our minds into the ship and modify our perception of time in software.

Ring/toroid shape? (5, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369001)

I thought that it was a cup of tea, not a donut, that led to FTL travel...

Re:Ring/toroid shape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369101)

if it is a typical teacup with a looped handle, then it is topologically equivalent to a donut anyway...

Re:Ring/toroid shape? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369149)

I thought that it was a cup of tea, not a donut, that led to FTL travel...

It wasn't tea. It was rather something sortof but not entirely unlike, tea.

Re:Ring/toroid shape? (1)

ekgringo (693136) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369151)

I believe FTL is made possible by the use of any source of Brownian motion, such as an advanced tea substitute.

When they develop it I'll use it (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369037)

to travel back using the gravitational pull of Earth's sun to perform the slingshot in time to this post and make a "First Post".

This is exciting (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369075)

Now if they can just nail transporter / replicator technology we'll be set!

I call first member of Starfleet!

Re:This is exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369217)

I hope you mean StarTrek replicators and not Stargate replicators. Stargate replicators would reek havoc on the universe.

Volunteer (1)

casca69 (795069) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369077)

Look, I'm no scientist, but I am a top technician/engineer. I would be happy to be the test monkey and keep GOOD notes!

Re:Volunteer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369229)

What, you'll be shouting "I'M OKAY TO GO!" over and over during the whole process?

It's still just as impossible before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369117)

This all relies on exotic matter than nobody has actually been able to prove the existence of. As usual, this is only an example of bad science reporting.

how did Zefron Cochran do it? (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369135)

did the star trek ever explore the mechanics of his first warp flight? I remember one really bad movie where the crew of TNG met him but it was entirely superficial in regards to the technology.

Re:how did Zefron Cochran do it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369295)

Sacrilige though it may be, the TNG team wasn't cut out for action movies, which is the majority of what Paramount featured them in outside of the show.

Show me the calculations (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369147)

No, the Real ones, not TFA.

"Harold 'Sonny' White of NASA's Johnson Space Center said Friday (Sept. 14) at the 100 Year Starship Symposium"

After a line like this there needs to be math, lots of math, it's the whole "extraordinary claims require..." bit.

I'm probably the layman here (i still have some faith in /. apparently), but i thought this was about testing our ability to confirm relativity (warp up space-time), rather than breaking it (FTLT, that would be excellent if we had infinite energy, if so we would have infinite time so the energy would be negligible?)

Re:Show me the calculations (1)

Punto (100573) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369291)

Look it's really complicated but apparently the requirement is now about 500 libraries of congress worth of energy to travel faster than light.

Solves energy problem, causality problems remain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369189)

While this formulation puts energy requirements within practical reach, actual use for FTL travel still runs into the problem of effectively censoring the ship out of existence on account of an inability to pop the bubble once formed, never mind the Hawking Radiation.

[Yawn] (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369193)

Call me when they get the demand down to the output rating of my Mr Fusion.

Just kill NASA already... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369227)

When they're spending taxpayer money to pay someone to write papers for a "100 year spaceship symposium" or other such nonsense, it's just time to just finally kill NASA and stop throwing more money down that ridiculous rathole.

NASA used to be about engineering solutions to our immediate space goals, not dreaming bit pie-in-the-sky, completely unattainable, cheeseburger-shitting unicorn fantasies..

What about the other problems? (2)

Confusedent (1913038) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369231)

That's great news, but there were a number of other difficulties [wikipedia.org] with the Alcubierre drive, iirc. I don't see how this gets around any of those, like the spacetime "bubble" becoming filled with lethal radiation or the inability to create a bubble with a pre-existing non-superluminal mass inside it.

Impossibility Drive (3, Insightful)

pubwvj (1045960) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369285)

I love it when people say things are impossible. Then they go whizzing backwards into forgotten history as the impossible becomes the norm. Tomorrow will be like today. The future will be surprising.

Interesting potential (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369301)

I remember reading a somewhat later paper on an analysis of the Alcubierre warp drive that pointed out that a side effect of the space-bending was that there was no reason that the inside of the "warp bubble" had to be smaller than the outside, reminiscent of a certain blue box, so that you could conceivably fit a starliner (or a star for that matter) within an atomic-scale warp field, radically reducing its cross-sectional area and the hard radiation resulting from the annihilation of matter that enters the warped space. They don't mention anything about the size of the theoretical ship in the article, which makes me wonder if the energy requirements scale with warp bubble size, and if so if they factored in asymmetric dimensions. If not, well then I could see a future for planet-movers...

Regardless though 500kg of mass-energy is *nothing* for something like this, only 4.5e19 J, or about 10% of annual global energy consumption. Though one problem I remember was that it's impossible to stop the "warp drive" from within the bubble, requiring instead some outside mechanism to return the contents to normal space, which could be a challenge considering that you won't be able to see a FTL vehicle coming to catch it. And heaven help you if you miss, though they didn't mention anything about steering so perhaps it would be possible to loop around for another attempt.

possible without violating causality (1)

doug141 (863552) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369315)

if compressing the space in front of you ALSO compresses the time dimension of spacetime, causing you to travel faster through time as well, keeping you in your light cone. Travelling this way would not be any different from the conventional way (and enjoying lorentz time contraction while you do so), except instead of rocket propulsion you have wave propulsion.

It's obvious, they just need the dilithium crystal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41369321)

they are used to control the oscillation of the field.

this reduces the energy use, and the Star Trek tech stuff did specify large amounts of anti-matter to power the ship for it's 5-year mission :-)

I hope they try to transmit data with it (1)

Punto (100573) | about a year and a half ago | (#41369333)

I know that a warp drive is exciting and all, but after they figure how to move an entire spaceship faster than the speed of light, they'll have 500 more problems before they can get anywhere near interesting with it. Transmitting data, on the other hand, is probably a lot easier, and there's a lot of cool real world uses for it. For example sending back images of astronauts hanging out at that Earth-like planet that is 20 light years away.

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