5 Faster-Than-Light Travel Methods and Their Plausibility

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5 Faster-Than-Light Travel Methods and Their Plausibility

A look at some common sci-fi takes on FTL travel and how plausible they are based on the science behind them.

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Actually Star Trek has all of them: warp drive (several warp technologies in fact), hyperspace, wormholes, stripstream drive and instant teleportation through vast distances, equating to FTL drive (seen at least in one episode). And time travel.

Hey, no live for Babylon 5? I don't remember how exactly it worked but navigating the hyperspace in I've Found Her game felt strangely realistic.

Sgt. Sykes:
Actually Star Trek has all of them: warp drive (several warp technologies in fact), hyperspace, wormholes, stripstream drive and instant teleportation through vast distances, equating to FTL drive (seen at least in one episode). And time travel.

Hey, no live for Babylon 5? I don't remember how exactly it worked but navigating the hyperspace in I've Found Her game felt strangely realistic.

I still remember the Voyager slipstream episode :)

I think Bab 5 uses jump drives to enter hyperspace.

Rhykker:

Sgt. Sykes:
Actually Star Trek has all of them: warp drive (several warp technologies in fact), hyperspace, wormholes, stripstream drive and instant teleportation through vast distances, equating to FTL drive (seen at least in one episode). And time travel.

Hey, no live for Babylon 5? I don't remember how exactly it worked but navigating the hyperspace in I've Found Her game felt strangely realistic.

I still remember the Voyager slipstream episode :)

I think Bab 5 uses jump drives to enter hyperspace.

Plus Stargate also has hyperspace (pretty much every faction's FTL ship), Jump Drive (Atlantic series finale) and warp (the Alteran ship in the void between galaxies). All they are missing is slipstream.

Zontar:

Rhykker:

Sgt. Sykes:
Actually Star Trek has all of them: warp drive (several warp technologies in fact), hyperspace, wormholes, stripstream drive and instant teleportation through vast distances, equating to FTL drive (seen at least in one episode). And time travel.

Hey, no live for Babylon 5? I don't remember how exactly it worked but navigating the hyperspace in I've Found Her game felt strangely realistic.

I still remember the Voyager slipstream episode :)

I think Bab 5 uses jump drives to enter hyperspace.

Plus Stargate also has hyperspace (pretty much every faction's FTL ship), Jump Drive (Atlantic series finale) and warp (the Alteran ship in the void between galaxies). All they are missing is slipstream.

Stargate SG-1 is my favorite sci-fi series. So much of it felt believable and internally consistent.

Rhykker:

Stargate SG-1 is my favorite sci-fi series. So much of it felt believable and internally consistent.

Can't argue with that. I can't remember another show which balanced technological development using alien tech in a means which felt like something that could almost happen. Hell, the only thing I felt was really inconsistent between it and the spin-offs is the fact that the Lucian Alliance was framed as a legitimate threat when in SG-1 they where at best a nuisance distracting from a real crisis. That's the only major criticism I can think of for the whole franchise.

It really does thrill me to know that there's a possibly doable warp drive (or warp drive-like) concept that might happen in our future.

Granted, I like Hyperspace and wormholes even if they are space magic (though wormholes do have their proponents)

Rhykker:

Stargate SG-1 is my favorite sci-fi series. So much of it felt believable and internally consistent.

On a similar note, I always enjoyed the Earth-built starships in the series because they specifically looked like something that one or more of our major powers would develop. Like, we didn't immediately jump to Star Trek (not that there's anything wrong with Trek).

In any case, Stargate SG-1 was freaking awesome.

Zontar:

Rhykker:

Stargate SG-1 is my favorite sci-fi series. So much of it felt believable and internally consistent.

Can't argue with that. I can't remember another show which balanced technological development using alien tech in a means which felt like something that could almost happen. Hell, the only thing I felt was really inconsistent between it and the spin-offs is the fact that the Lucian Alliance was framed as a legitimate threat when in SG-1 they where at best a nuisance distracting from a real crisis. That's the only major criticism I can think of for the whole franchise.

I didn't jump on board the Atlantis train -- it was too far-future for me. What I loved about SG1 was that it was grounded in real-world, modern military tech. I did return to the franchise for Universe, though, and quite enjoyed what it tried to do. It had its faults, for sure, but by Season 2 they improved it a great deal.

Zachary Amaranth:
It really does thrill me to know that there's a possibly doable warp drive (or warp drive-like) concept that might happen in our future.

Granted, I like Hyperspace and wormholes even if they are space magic (though wormholes do have their proponents)

Rhykker:

Stargate SG-1 is my favorite sci-fi series. So much of it felt believable and internally consistent.

On a similar note, I always enjoyed the Earth-built starships in the series because they specifically looked like something that one or more of our major powers would develop. Like, we didn't immediately jump to Star Trek (not that there's anything wrong with Trek).

In any case, Stargate SG-1 was freaking awesome.

Bingo. What appealed to me so much about SG1 over Star Trek was that I felt like I could relate to it so much more. I was a fan of Trek too, of course, but SG1 resonated with me more.

Rhykker:

I didn't jump on board the Atlantis train -- it was too far-future for me. What I loved about SG1 was that it was grounded in real-world, modern military tech. I did return to the franchise for Universe, though, and quite enjoyed what it tried to do. It had its faults, for sure, but by Season 2 they improved it a great deal.

I guess it's personal preference (it's no secret Atlantis was never as popular as SG1). I felt the technology being used by that point made sense given how when it started it was already season 8 for SG1 where real weapons where being replaced by the modified P90 and Zats, and by the end of season 2/start of season 3 of the show the Asgardians gave humanity all of their knowledge.

Completely agree with you on Universe though, and I'm pretty upset how Sy Fy screwed the show over.

Rhykker:

Sgt. Sykes:
Actually Star Trek has all of them: warp drive (several warp technologies in fact), hyperspace, wormholes, stripstream drive and instant teleportation through vast distances, equating to FTL drive (seen at least in one episode). And time travel.

Hey, no live for Babylon 5? I don't remember how exactly it worked but navigating the hyperspace in I've Found Her game felt strangely realistic.

I think Bab 5 uses jump drives to enter hyperspace.

They used gates for smaller ships, and larger ships have jump drives.
The shadows can make wormholes in hyperspace, and the Vorlon use warp tech in hyperspace. First Ones have to be all fancy and stuff.

Sgt. Sykes:
Hey, no love for Babylon 5?

I will always have love for Babylon 5.

OT:
Very cool as always.

I hope through the miracles of increasing medical science I can live long enough to at least see a working prototype.

Zontar:

Rhykker:

I didn't jump on board the Atlantis train -- it was too far-future for me. What I loved about SG1 was that it was grounded in real-world, modern military tech. I did return to the franchise for Universe, though, and quite enjoyed what it tried to do. It had its faults, for sure, but by Season 2 they improved it a great deal.

I guess it's personal preference (it's no secret Atlantis was never as popular as SG1). I felt the technology being used by that point made sense given how when it started it was already season 8 for SG1 where real weapons where being replaced by the modified P90 and Zats, and by the end of season 2/start of season 3 of the show the Asgardians gave humanity all of their knowledge.

Completely agree with you on Universe though, and I'm pretty upset how Sy Fy screwed the show over.

Oh, I completely agree that the tech made sense. And overall, I appreciate the journey taken in SG1, as more and more alien tech is adopted over the years and humans eventually get more advanced ships, etc. But even the last couple years of SG1 started to lose me when the humans were getting ahold of increasingly advanced tech.

The question to me has ALWAYS been a "if." Like, "if" we can possibly build a machine that can safely transport someone lightyears away in a reasonable amount of time and "if" it is practical. One of the biggest obstacles is relativity. Sure, someone might make it to planet X in their lifetime, but what if it is like thousands of years in the future when they get there?

To my way of thinking, Battlsestar Galactica's 'Jump Drive' was more like folding space rather than teleportation.

Here's my 6th theory: Portals!

warp theory is all well and good but until we produce a "warp bubble" in the lab creating a ship is a bit beyond us

I do so hope that we can actually get 'round to space travel at reasonable speeds... pity a lot of this is currently impossible for us.

The wormhole for instance would theoretically require us tethering a black-hole and an as yet unproven "white-hole". The obvious problem is how the hell do we do something like that, the energy required to maintain a black hole large enough and then manipulate it would be tremendous, assuming that we can though to reach a point at which you could enter the center of black hole you'd have to exceed the speed of light, which is impossible with normal relativistic physics. Thus you'll never get to the point at which you'd go /through/ the worm hole, you'd forever be stuck entering it. Of course some theories propose expanding one of the wormholes in the quantum foam, but again the issue is how?

The warp drive also has some faults, most notably Sergi Krasnikov pointed out that you become causally disconnected from the space outside the bubble. So you cant turn the damn thing off and effectively enter your own pocket universe from which you cant really escape.

The solution everyone proposed was to have negative energy, which is where manipulation of the Higgs particle comes in. using this you can make small wormholes big and through clever manipulation make a warp drive functional by creating a sort of negative energy drag. However even a wormhole 1 meter in size would require the yearly energy output of 10 billion of our suns. Warp drives applied to a spaceship of normal sci-fi proportions would need 4*10^79 J which is shitloads more energy than the mass energy of the entire known universe (like 10 billion times... again). This makes me very sad indeed.

Incidentally I think a type of warp drive was used in the mass effect series. The mass relays created these warp corridors etc?

*Edit*

Don't get me wrong, I really really wanna get this stuff going, and I don't wanna throw a bucket of water on the issue I'm just pointing out some of the issues stopping me from hitting on those alien hotties... I'll do some research and see if theres something we can do by some other contrivance and maybe restore hope

Bke:
Warp drives applied to a spaceship of normal sci-fi proportions would need 4*10^79 J which is shitloads more energy than the mass energy of the entire known universe (like 10 billion times... again). This makes me very sad indeed.

Pretty sure they determined that if you could manipulate the warp bubble in a certain way (a way that they would be able to if the warp bubble is possible to begin with I believe), that they would need orders of magnitude less power. An amount that might actually be feasible someday in fact.

Although it might not be very realistic, the FTL drive (Jump drive)from Battlestar Galactica felt very natural and realistic to me when I watched the show.

Certainly seemed a lot more plausible than the warp drive from Star Trek, for some reason.

Vivi22:
Pretty sure they determined that if you could manipulate the warp bubble in a certain way (a way that they would be able to if the warp bubble is possible to begin with I believe), that they would need orders of magnitude less power. An amount that might actually be feasible someday in fact.

Interesting. I cant seem to find anything about it, maybe you could find a wiki link? I never really dove deep into this part of theory (space travel etc), as interesting as it is, education behooved me to study more immediately pragmatic things.

theyellowmeteor:
Here's my 6th theory: Portals!

And portals are connected by... wormholes ;)

The biggest problem with the idea of warm drive... erm... since you're folding another part of space towards you and what may well be ftl speeds... what prevents you from actually warping a floating ice chunk that happened to be in the spot you targeted the warp into the hull of your ship... or vice versa, your ship winding up just where a stray micro meteorite is travelling.

See that's the one thing sci-fi always over looks... the reality. We know from physics that e=mc2... so basically an object weighing as little as a gram, moving at super luminal velocity will basically impart the energy of a fricken hydrogen bomb upon whatever is unfortunate enough be in it's way. There's particles all up in space. some as large as a gram, some smaller . I mean even on the atomic level, ftl speeds turn molecules into grenades.

Now while wormholes and warping space is plausible, the other fly in the ointment... how the hell do you generate the energy required to do that because the only things occuring naturally that have that ability are black holes and maybe neutron stars.

As you know blackholes are more or less where physics says 'fuck that I'm goin' home'. LOok if we had the ability to generate energy on that scale we'd never need to leave the planet. We could bloody well just move our planet through space at will. SUre maybe not at super luminal speeds, not even half as fast but hey, what's the hurry, not like we have to worry about running out of food, or breathable air. Heat wouldn't be a problem since we'd also be able to create an artificial small scale sun... heck we could re-purpose the moon as that and take it with us. Seems fantastically unfeasible...according to physics... that scenario is far more plausible than warp drive.

Besides... wouldn't it be totally be bitcin to be rockin around the cosmos on a fricken planet. I can just see it now ,, grazing some poor inhabited planet and shouting at them "'Ey I'm drivin ova here!" through the planet to planet universal translator.

BigTuk:
The biggest problem with the idea of warm drive... erm... since you're folding another part of space towards you and what may well be ftl speeds... what prevents you from actually warping a floating ice chunk that happened to be in the spot you targeted the warp into the hull of your ship... or vice versa, your ship winding up just where a stray micro meteorite is travelling.

See that's the one thing sci-fi always over looks... the reality. We know from physics that e=mc2... so basically an object weighing as little as a gram, moving at super luminal velocity will basically impart the energy of a fricken hydrogen bomb upon whatever is unfortunate enough be in it's way. There's particles all up in space. some as large as a gram, some smaller . I mean even on the atomic level, ftl speeds turn molecules into grenades.

Now while wormholes and warping space is plausible, the other fly in the ointment... how the hell do you generate the energy required to do that because the only things occuring naturally that have that ability are black holes and maybe neutron stars.

As you know blackholes are more or less where physics says 'fuck that I'm goin' home'. LOok if we had the ability to generate energy on that scale we'd never need to leave the planet. We could bloody well just move our planet through space at will. SUre maybe not at super luminal speeds, not even half as fast but hey, what's the hurry, not like we have to worry about running out of food, or breathable air. Heat wouldn't be a problem since we'd also be able to create an artificial small scale sun... heck we could re-purpose the moon as that and take it with us. Seems fantastically unfeasible...according to physics... that scenario is far more plausible than warp drive.

Besides... wouldn't it be totally be bitcin to be rockin around the cosmos on a fricken planet. I can just see it now ,, grazing some poor inhabited planet and shouting at them "'Ey I'm drivin ova here!" through the planet to planet universal translator.

The thing about the warp drive is that you're not actually traveling very fast, you're just folding space so that the distance is shorter. For example if you're going only 5mph but you fold the space in front of you that 50 miles become 5 miles, you're still only going 5mph in your little bubble.

As for bending space, everything that has mass bends space. The sun and earth each bend space allowing objects to continually orbit around them. Even your body creates a bend or gravity well, just not to any significant degree. It's the fact we need to bend the space in front of us to contract and bend the space behind us to expand is the goal of the warp drive.

[quote="Akisa" post="6.853053.21110097"

The thing about the warp drive is that you're not actually traveling very fast, you're just folding space so that the distance is shorter. For example if you're going only 5mph but you fold the space in front of you that 50 miles become 5 miles, you're still only going 5mph in your little bubble. [/quote]

Then it would basically be no different..if the speed at which you're warping space to your position is no greater than the speed than one could actually traverse said space...then it's not really accomplishing anything. Your warp ship will still be waiting for 40 years for the warp to alpha centauri to complete. Which is kinda lame.... just sitting there for 40 years... I mean think about it, can you imagine trying to warp out of pirate attack? See even if your folding something, something has to travel the distance. Shortening the distance by bringing the destination closer to you is all well and good but the destination point still has to travel and the speed of that travesal would need to be significantly faster than the rate at which you yourself could traverse the distance. Pluss there's the other matter of what happens to everything between you and the destination. wouldn't the warp also bring say a few stars and other planetary bodies closer to our system as well in which case that would be a hell of a disaster.

As for bending space, everything that has mass bends space. The sun and earth each bend space allowing objects to continually orbit around them. Even your body creates a bend or gravity well, just not to any significant degree. It's the fact we need to bend the space in front of us to contract and bend the space behind us to expand is the goal of the warp drive.

Yes, but to start bending space to the degree that makes interstellar travel possible you either need something with neutron star's worth of mass or conceivably more energy than there exists in the universe.

Zontar:

Plus Stargate also has hyperspace (pretty much every faction's FTL ship), Jump Drive (Atlantic series finale) and warp (the Alteran ship in the void between galaxies). All they are missing is slipstream.

I don't recall that Alteran ship using warp, just flooring it to get as close to lightspeed as possible using their sublight engines, hence the relativity effects.

Jadak:

Zontar:

Plus Stargate also has hyperspace (pretty much every faction's FTL ship), Jump Drive (Atlantic series finale) and warp (the Alteran ship in the void between galaxies). All they are missing is slipstream.

I don't recall that Alteran ship using warp, just flooring it to get as close to lightspeed as possible using their sublight engines, hence the relativity effects.

Oh, you're right.

I do seem to recall someone using it for getting threw space though.

why wasn't something like the mass relays mentioned? i know we would need to build them which would mean we would have to shoot ships to unknown destinations once we build the first one to set up the network.

Rhykker:

I didn't jump on board the Atlantis train -- it was too far-future for me. What I loved about SG1 was that it was grounded in real-world, modern military tech. I did return to the franchise for Universe, though, and quite enjoyed what it tried to do. It had its faults, for sure, but by Season 2 they improved it a great deal.

Yeah. This. With season one of Universe, I powered through it despite the way I hated it, because of my love for SG-1. It was all relationship drama and shit. I called it "Fornigate," and that stupid play on words was really my only enjoyment of the series. When Season Two started to actually deal with SCIENCE FICTION instead of quasi-spiritual boredom sex fueled NOTHING fests, I was like, "Oh snap, this could actually start to be really g-" aaaaaaand it was cancelled.

jaibryan:
why wasn't something like the mass relays mentioned? i know we would need to build them which would mean we would have to shoot ships to unknown destinations once we build the first one to set up the network.

The mass relays are entirely based on element zero, the made up element everything in Mass Effect is based on.

That's like asking why magic wasn't mentioned.

Gary Thompson:

jaibryan:
why wasn't something like the mass relays mentioned? i know we would need to build them which would mean we would have to shoot ships to unknown destinations once we build the first one to set up the network.

The mass relays are entirely based on element zero, the made up element everything in Mass Effect is based on.

That's like asking why magic wasn't mentioned.

it's just an exotic element like mentioned in the article. replace element zero with some other undiscovered element and bingo.

Zontar:

Can't argue with that. I can't remember another show which balanced technological development using alien tech in a means which felt like something that could almost happen. Hell, the only thing I felt was really inconsistent between it and the spin-offs is the fact that the Lucian Alliance was framed as a legitimate threat when in SG-1 they where at best a nuisance distracting from a real crisis. That's the only major criticism I can think of for the whole franchise.

The shows had active Air Force advisors on set full time to offer advice and maintain realism in every aspect from military protocol to technology use and development.

Let me say that again. The US Air Force had ADVISORS on set full time to provide assistance to the producers. Every episode was released with the Air Force's blessing.

Given what you said, what does THAT tell you? O.o

hahaha

Jacco:

Zontar:

Can't argue with that. I can't remember another show which balanced technological development using alien tech in a means which felt like something that could almost happen. Hell, the only thing I felt was really inconsistent between it and the spin-offs is the fact that the Lucian Alliance was framed as a legitimate threat when in SG-1 they where at best a nuisance distracting from a real crisis. That's the only major criticism I can think of for the whole franchise.

The shows had active Air Force advisors on set full time to offer advice and maintain realism in every aspect from military protocol to technology use and development.

Let me say that again. The US Air Force had ADVISORS on set full time to provide assistance to the producers. Every episode was released with the Air Force's blessing.

Given what you said, what does THAT tell you? O.o

hahaha

Ha, yeah I've made that joke plenty of times. But they couldn't have been that good at their jobs, they forgot the Canadian flags at the base (of all bases in the lower 48, they set it in the one which is a joint base. It does explain why Canada never needed a big reveal like the other nations, or why we didn't have a shit fit like China pretended it would in the show).

Zontar:

Jacco:

Zontar:

Can't argue with that. I can't remember another show which balanced technological development using alien tech in a means which felt like something that could almost happen. Hell, the only thing I felt was really inconsistent between it and the spin-offs is the fact that the Lucian Alliance was framed as a legitimate threat when in SG-1 they where at best a nuisance distracting from a real crisis. That's the only major criticism I can think of for the whole franchise.

The shows had active Air Force advisors on set full time to offer advice and maintain realism in every aspect from military protocol to technology use and development.

Let me say that again. The US Air Force had ADVISORS on set full time to provide assistance to the producers. Every episode was released with the Air Force's blessing.

Given what you said, what does THAT tell you? O.o

hahaha

Ha, yeah I've made that joke plenty of times. But they couldn't have been that good at their jobs, they forgot the Canadian flags at the base (of all bases in the lower 48, they set it in the one which is a joint base. It does explain why Canada never needed a big reveal like the other nations, or why we didn't have a shit fit like China pretended it would in the show).

Sorry, what's that about Canadian flags? I know a lot of the show (all?) was shot in Canada (Vancouver?) Is there anything else I should be proud of, as a Canadian? Hidden patriotism?

Jacco:

Zontar:

Can't argue with that. I can't remember another show which balanced technological development using alien tech in a means which felt like something that could almost happen. Hell, the only thing I felt was really inconsistent between it and the spin-offs is the fact that the Lucian Alliance was framed as a legitimate threat when in SG-1 they where at best a nuisance distracting from a real crisis. That's the only major criticism I can think of for the whole franchise.

The shows had active Air Force advisors on set full time to offer advice and maintain realism in every aspect from military protocol to technology use and development.

Let me say that again. The US Air Force had ADVISORS on set full time to provide assistance to the producers. Every episode was released with the Air Force's blessing.

Given what you said, what does THAT tell you? O.o

hahaha

They actually have a room in Cheyenne mountain, with Stargate Command on the door. It's just a broom closet though. God I miss stargate. :)

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