Warp Drive Might Actually Be Possible

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Warp Drive Might Actually Be Possible

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Soon, you might actually be able to say, "Warp factor 7, Mr. Sulu."

Science fiction is famous for conceptualizing theoretical solutions to physical impossibilities. Authors and screenwriters come up with ideas that sound plausible, but scientists often have to step forward and say, "Hey, yeah, there's no way there'd be bright fire explosions in space," or "Lasers don't work like that, bro." One of the bigger physical impossibilities science fiction properties like Star Trek rely upon is faster-than-light travel. But now it seems even the so-called warp drive could perhaps become as much a reality as communicators (cell phones) and datapads (tablet computers). A presentation at the 100 Year Starship Symposium - a conference designed to discuss these issues - from NASA's Harold "Sonny" White outlined how such a warp engine could allow a ship to travel between the stars.

"There is hope," said White. "The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation."

Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre first introduced a real design for a warp drive in 1994. The blueprint for Alcubierre's drive involved an oval spaceship surrounded by a large ring which would be able to contract the space in front of the ship and expand the space behind it. Creating this "warp field" would unfortunately take far more energy than the human race knows how to generate.

What NASA's White came up with was a way to reduce the energy needs for the drive by changing the flat ring to a rounded shape as well as alternating the warp field. "The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab," White said.

Of course, there's got to be some tests, you know, before we open up one of these rings and realize that we've created a portal to an alternate reality - complete with evil goatee-wearing versions of you and your friends.

Luckily, White and his team is on the case. They've created a small model of the hardware needed to create this field which they've dubbed the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at their lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. "We're trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million," he said.

That's great. Now, I have to worry about the space-time continuum becoming "perturbed". That doesn't really sound like a very good idea, but, as the saying goes, if you want interstellar travel, you have to piss off a few warp fields.

Source: Space.com

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makes me wanna watch some Star Trek original series episodes...okay I'm gonna go do that now :]

Hmmm.....
Isn't that similar to how FTL travel works in Mass Effect?

I'm so behind this idea! The fact that practical, out of solar-system space travel might be impossible is one of the most depressing things for humanity, so this is great news.

GenGenners:
Hmmm.....
Isn't that similar to how FTL travel works in Mass Effect?

No, in mass effect they flow a current through element zero via dark energy, with a positive current, mass is increased, with a negative current, mass is decreased. So they lower the ships mass to nothing and this allows ftl speeds, so to do it the mass effect way we'd need a element that bioware made up and a hypothetical form of energy that may exist.

I already wear a goatee. I have for many years. But I don't want to destroy and/or enslave the world. Does that mean I'm a evil version of myself with amnesia? Or that my good version is an asshole?

Either way, you gotta love it when scientists talk to each other. Perturbing space-time and oscillating the fabric of reality.

Any mention of what speeds they think they can reach with this tech?

The whole perturbing space keeps bugging me. If I was in the space that was being squished/expanded, what would happen to me?

...thinking that I may have to stop by JSC on the way home from work and give them a couple of copies of Event Horizon to review before they go "perturbing" space/time less than 10 miles from my home.

So they have brought down the energy requirements from 10 neuron stars to 8? Moving very fast is very inefficient in terms of space travel.

How do you hit the brakes in space..?

Come on hurry up!
There are some green skinned space babes that need kirking!
Yes that's a verb.

Acrisius:
How do you hit the brakes in space..?

The problem with current theoretical brakes that would be easily developed is that the brakes would kind of destroy your destination. They're still working on that part.

Of all things, it had to be Futurama.

vxicepickxv:

Acrisius:
How do you hit the brakes in space..?

The problem with current theoretical brakes that would be easily developed is that the brakes would kind of destroy your destination. They're still working on that part.

Brakes aren't needed at all, since the object in the warp bubble is not actually moving. What the field is doing moving space around the object. In Star Trek this is why they aren't affected by time dilation. If this works the same way, then it too should avoid the time dilation effect.

vxicepickxv:

Acrisius:
How do you hit the brakes in space..?

The problem with current theoretical brakes that would be easily developed is that the brakes would kind of destroy your destination. They're still working on that part.

I can see that being used as a weapon in the far distant future.

Sometimes I hate living in the present because I can only be there for the start of events and never see the fruits of that labour.

Then again if we stop spending 15 trillion dollars on weapons to kill each other maybe we can spend that money on making a ship to kill aliens? We might still pull that off before I die at age 117.

I see it comming. There you are just pertubing the spacetime continuum and next you know is a some bloodthirster wrecking your shiny NASA-facillity. Just don't say I dind't warn you....

So they are focussing on moving space around an object instead of moving the object in space... Removing the requirement to accelerate mass... removing the need for infinite thrust...

NICE!

vxicepickxv:

Acrisius:
How do you hit the brakes in space..?

The problem with current theoretical brakes that would be easily developed is that the brakes would kind of destroy your destination. They're still working on that part.

I know, I was just trying to destroy someone's dream. Like my own was destroyed. No worries though, I never hoped much for that dream and I have plenty of others.

"Enemies of the dark gods, bewaaare!"/"The true power is here"

Yes, yes, I'm aware that warp!=Warp (Empyrean)

This seems far too much like Futurama troll science to be real, theoretical physics is a crazy, crazy place.

Agow95:

GenGenners:
Hmmm.....
Isn't that similar to how FTL travel works in Mass Effect?

No, in mass effect they flow a current through element zero via dark energy, with a positive current, mass is increased, with a negative current, mass is decreased. So they lower the ships mass to nothing and this allows ftl speeds, so to do it the mass effect way we'd need a element that bioware made up and a hypothetical form of energy that may exist.

I thought that normal electricity was passed through Ezoo, not dark energy, or am I reading that wrong.

OT: Has no one ever seen what happened in Event Horizon? If not just a quick pro-tip: Do not land that fucker back on Earth.

Didn't they watch that helpful documentary films called "Event Horizon" and "Lost in Space" back in the 90's? I thought they pretty much covered why its a bad idea.

Besides, everyone knows that Star Trek science is inferior to Lexx science.

/sarcasm

Now the only question remaining is... how the hell DO we perturb space in the first place? Unless someone just happens to have a spare Space-Disruptor lying around...?

This makes me think of event horizen... don't piss anything off too much please!

Whooo! Let's tear open a hole in reality! I've got my thumpin' stick and I'm ready to whack some orcs!

Even if it works, they're just going to send something into an unknown 'distance' from when/where it was sent. We can bend space/time but once we tear it, we can only improvise. In all honesty, try moving everything except the target object. At least then if it works we'll all still be in relative existence with one another if something goes wrong.

Scorched_Cascade:
"Enemies of the dark gods, bewaaare!"/"The true power is here"

Yes, yes, I'm aware that warp!=Warp (Empyrean)

This seems far too much like Futurama troll science to be real, theoretical physics is a crazy, crazy place.

Welcome to science in general, where holograms of certain somethings can actually work just like the real thing!

Also, glad I wasn't the only person who was suddenly reminded of the Professor's zany method of space travel in Futurama when reading this!

If this works as intended, then it'll be the greatest advancement in human history.

If not... Well we might as well work on magical plug of "SCIENCE" to fill in the gap left in the space-time continuum.

Want. Want want want want; so much freaking want!

Get us the hell out of this solar system, scientists! Screw the risks!

Greg Tito:
Of course, there's got to be some tests, you know, before we open up one of these rings and realize that we've created a portal to an alternate reality - complete with evil goatee-wearing versions of you and your friends.

That would be bad. And this is an election year. I won't know where to cast my vote when when we start getting our politicians in the wrong dimensions:

On a serious note, I'm cautiously but seriously optimistic about this. I know, I know, we won't be exploring the stars in my lifetime regardless. But wouldn't you rather live knowing that it is at least theoretically possible? That there is even the smallest chance? That one day, maybe...

tangoprime:
...thinking that I may have to stop by JSC on the way home from work and give them a couple of copies of Event Horizon to review before they go "perturbing" space/time less than 10 miles from my home.

Nothing good I expect, but really, better not to hang out in the vicinity of warp capable ships anyways....

To quote the esteemed professor Hubert J. Farnsworth:

'Nothing is impossible. Not if you can imagine it.'

Holy shit, first they find the Higgs Boson, then they land a motherfucking SUV on Mars, and now they're "perturbing" space-time with the hopes of developing FTL-drives. Science is really kicking ass these days.

Isn't science awesome when stuff like this is brought onto the table? Maybe they'll even finish an experiment on this while I'm still alive. I'd certainly love to hear the results of it.

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