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Offline ZANDOLIE

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Boldly go....
« on: December 05, 2012, 11:38:27 AM »
How NASA might build its very first warp drive


By: George Dvorsky

From: io9.com





 A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein's law of relativity. We contacted White at NASA and asked him to explain how this real life warp drive could actually work.


 
The Alcubierre Drive



 
The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, "The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity," Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be "warped" both in front of and behind a spacecraft.
 
Michio Kaku dubbed Alcubierre's notion a "passport to the universe." It takes advantage of a quirk in the cosmological code that allows for the expansion and contraction of space-time, and could allow for hyper-fast travel between interstellar destinations. Essentially, the empty space behind a starship would be made to expand rapidly, pushing the craft in a forward direction — passengers would perceive it as movement despite the complete lack of acceleration.
 
White speculates that such a drive could result in "speeds" that could take a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away.



 


 In terms of the engine's mechanics, a spheroid object would be placed between two regions of space-time (one expanding and one contracting). A "warp bubble" would then be generated that moves space-time around the object, effectively repositioning it — the end result being faster-than-light travel without the spheroid (or spacecraft) having to move with respect to its local frame of reference.
 
"Remember, nothing locally exceeds the speed of light, but space can expand and contract at any speed," White told io9. "However, space-time is really stiff, so to create the expansion and contraction effect in a useful manner in order for us to reach interstellar destinations in reasonable time periods would require a lot of energy."
 
And indeed, early assessments published in the ensuing scientific literature suggested horrific amounts of energy — basically equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter (what is 1.9 Χ 1027 kilograms or 317 Earth masses). As a result, the idea was brushed aside as being far too impractical. Even though nature allowed for a warp drive, it looked like we would never be able to build one ourselves.
 
"However," said White, "based on the analysis I did the last 18 months, there may be hope." The key, says White, may be in altering the geometry of the warp drive itself.
 
A new design
 
In October of last year, White was preparing for a talk he was to give for the kickoff to the 100 Year Starship project in Orlando, Florida. As he was pulling together his overview on space warp, he performed a sensitivity analysis for the field equations, more out of curiosity than anything else.
 

"My early results suggested I had discovered something that was in the math all along," he recalled. "I suddenly realized that if you made the thickness of the negative vacuum energy ring larger — like shifting from a belt shape to a donut shape — and oscillate the warp bubble, you can greatly reduce the energy required — perhaps making the idea plausible." White had adjusted the shape of Alcubierre's ring which surrounded the spheroid from something that was a flat halo to something that was thicker and curvier.
 
He presented the results of his Alcubierre Drive rethink a year later at the 100 Year Starship conference in Atlanta where he highlighted his new optimization approaches — a new design that could significantly reduce the amount of exotic matter required. And in fact, White says that the warp drive could be powered by a mass that's even less than that of the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
 
That's a significant change in calculations to say the least. The reduction in mass from a Jupiter-sized planet to an object that weighs a mere 1,600 pounds has completely reset White's sense of plausibility — and NASA's.
 
Hitting the lab
 
Theoretical plausibility is all fine and well, of course. What White needs now is a real-world proof-of-concept. So he's hit the lab and begun work on actual experiments.
 
"We're utilizing a modified Michelson-Morley interferometer — that allows us to measure microscopic perturbations in space time," he said. "In our case, we're attempting to make one of the legs of the interferometer appear to be a different length when we energize our test devices." White and his colleagues are trying to simulate the tweaked Alcubierre drive in miniature by using lasers to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million.
 
Of course, the interferometer isn't something that NASA would bolt onto a spaceship. Rather, it's part of a larger scientific pursuit.
 
"Our initial test device is implementing a ring of large potential energy — what we observe as blue shifted relative to the lab frame — by utilizing a ring of ceramic capacitors that are charged to tens of thousands of volts," he told us. "We will increase the fidelity of our test devices and continue to enhance the sensitivity of the warp field interferometer — eventually using devices to directly generate negative vacuum energy."
 
He points out that Casimir cavities, physical forces that arise from a quantized field, may represent a viable approach.
 
And it's through these experiments, hopes White, that NASA can go from the theoretical to the practical.
 
Waiting for that "Chicago Pile" moment
 
Given just how fantastic this all appears, we asked White if he truly thinks a warp-generating spacecraft might someday be constructed.
 
"Mathematically, the field equations predict that this is possible, but it remains to be seen if we could ever reduce this to practice."
 

What White is waiting for is existence of proof — what he's calling a "Chicago Pile" moment — a reference to a great practical example.
 
"In late 1942, humanity activated the first nuclear reactor in Chicago generating a whopping half Watt — not enough to power a light bulb," he said. "However, just under one year later, we activated a ~4MW reactor which is enough to power a small town. Existence proof is important."
 
His cautious approach notwithstanding, White did admit that a real-world warp drive could create some fascinating possibilities for space travel — and would certainly reset our sense of the vastness of the cosmos.
 
"This loophole in general relativity would allow us to go places really fast as measured by both Earth observers, and observers on the ship — trips measured in weeks or months as opposed to decades and centuries," he said.
 
But for now, pursuit of this idea is very much in science mode. "I'm not ready to discuss much beyond the math and very controlled modest approaches in the lab," he said.
 
Which makes complete sense to us, as well. But thanks to these preliminary efforts, White has already done much to instill a renewed sense of hope and excitement over the possibilities. Faster-than-light travel may await us yet.
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Offline D.H.W

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 11:45:06 AM »
Science fiction slowly becomes reality. The real life Zefram Cochrane
"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid."
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Offline Deeks

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 11:49:34 AM »
kinda look like a Klingon ship.

Offline ZANDOLIE

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 12:09:02 PM »
it is a klingon ship, used for illustration. graphics only meant to generate a little buzz and wrap peoples heads around the concepts. the tech is way too new for prototypes. they are working with 'test devices'
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 12:10:35 PM by ZANDOLIE »
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Offline Jah Gol

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 12:59:45 PM »
Science fiction slowly becomes reality. The real life Zefram Cochrane

“Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Einstein

Offline Dutty

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 01:48:36 PM »
Taking away good gobs from the chinese and mexicans and giving it to Klingons
Little known fact: The online transportation medium called Uber was pioneered in Trinidad & Tobago in the 1960's. It was originally called pullin bull.

Offline ZANDOLIE

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 03:30:23 PM »
a brief excerpt from alcubierre's 1994 paper...


The warp drive: hyper-fast travel within general relativity.
By: Miguel Alcubierre
, 1994
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Wales,
College of Cardiff, P.O. Box 913, Cardiff CF1 3YB, UK.
PACS numbers : 0420, 0490.

∗When we study special relativity we learn that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. This fact is still true in general relativity, though in this case one must be somewhat more precise: in general relativity, nothing can travel locally faster than the speed of light.

Since our everyday experience is based on an Euclidean space, it is natural to believe that if nothing can travel locally faster than light then given two places that are separated by a spatial proper distance D, it is impossible to make a round trip between them in a time less than 2D/c (where c is the speed of light), as measured by an observer that remains always at the place of departure. Of course, from our knowledge of special relativity we know that the time measured by the person making the round trip can be made arbitrarily small if his (or her) speed approaches that of light. However, the fact that within the framework of general relativity and without the need to introduce nontrivial topologies (wormholes), one can actually make such a round trip in an arbitrarily short time as measured by an observer that remained at rest will probably come as a surprise to many people.

Here I wish to discuss a simple example that shows how this can be done. The basic idea can be more easily understood if we think for a moment in the inflationary phase of the early Universe, and consider the relative speed of separation of two comoving observers. It is easy to convince oneself that, if we define this relative speed as the rate of change of proper spatial distance over proper time, we will obtain a value that is much larger than the speed of light. This doesn’t mean that our observers will be travelling faster than light: they always move inside their local light-cones. The enormous speed of
separation comes from the expansion of spacetime itself.

 Note (1) Superluminal speed is very often a source of confusion. It is also a very good example of how
an intuition based on special relativity can be deceiving when one deals with dynamical spacetimes.

One can use an expansion of spacetime to move away from some object at an arbitrarily large speed. In the same way, one can use a contraction of spacetime to approach an object at any speed. This is the basis of the model for hyperfast space travel that I wish to present here: create a local distortion of spacetime that will produce an expansion behind the spaceship, and an opposite contraction ahead of
it. In this way, the spaceship will be pushed away from the Earth and pulled towards a distant star by spacetime itself. One can then invert the process to come back to Earth, taking an arbitrarily small time to complete the round trip.

the rest of the paper is here  http://arxiv.org/pdf/grqc/0009013.pdf
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 04:13:49 PM by Tallman »
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Offline D.H.W

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Re: Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 08:22:11 PM »
kinda look like a Klingon ship.

It's Vulcan.

Klingons use the bird of prey that cloaks. I'm a trekkie fan :)
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Offline Controversial

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 10:06:31 PM »
excellent article bro  :beermug:

Offline triniairman

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 10:28:32 AM »
They need to put some weapons on that ship, never know who is out there! I just imagined it with guns ;D

Offline Bitter

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 03:16:45 PM »
Dammit, now I have to start thinking about aliens and UFOs seriously
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Offline D.H.W

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 03:19:57 PM »
Probably know about us already. Operating on the "prime directive"
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Offline vb

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 03:21:18 PM »
They need to put some weapons on that ship, never know who is out there! I just imagined it with guns ;D

You damn right.

Next dey get gang rape and eat.

And dey come for the rest of we on planet Earth.

You ever see that Twilight Zone episode where the aliens was taking them to another planet - but to use dem as food.

Be prepared.

VB
VITAMIN V...KEEPS THE LADIES HEALTHY...:-)

Offline Bitter

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 03:31:44 PM »
They need to put some weapons on that ship, never know who is out there! I just imagined it with guns ;D

You damn right.

Next dey get gang rape and eat.

And dey come for the rest of we on planet Earth.

You ever see that Twilight Zone episode where the aliens was taking them to another planet - but to use dem as food.

Be prepared.

VB


Too Late:
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/baracksoetorofamilyphoto16sep08.shtml
http://www.aliens2ufos.com/2010/12/obama-is-reptilian-alien-post.html
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 03:34:19 PM by Bitter »
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Offline pecan

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2012, 04:08:36 PM »
They need to put some weapons on that ship, never know who is out there! I just imagined it with guns ;D

You damn right.

Next dey get gang rape and eat.

And dey come for the rest of we on planet Earth.

You ever see that Twilight Zone episode where the aliens was taking them to another planet - but to use dem as food.

Be prepared.

VB


Too Late:
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/baracksoetorofamilyphoto16sep08.shtml
http://www.aliens2ufos.com/2010/12/obama-is-reptilian-alien-post.html


damn .. .where is Agent J when you need him?
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Offline ZANDOLIE

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2012, 05:26:50 PM »
Lol
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Offline Deeks

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Re: Boldly go....
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2012, 06:21:33 PM »
They need to put some weapons on that ship, never know who is out there! I just imagined it with guns ;D

You damn right.

Next dey get gang rape and eat.

And dey come for the rest of we on planet Earth.

You ever see that Twilight Zone episode where the aliens was taking them to another planet - but to use dem as food.

Be prepared.

VB

If them aliens wanted earthlings, they would have done it a long time ago. They eh want to eat we dutty earthlings. When they watch the chaos on earth, they just warp speed out to the milky way.