A breakthrough in the quest for faster-than-light travel?

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DeaconBlues
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06 Jan 2013, 1:56 pm

ruveyn wrote:
DeaconBlues wrote:
Actually, the improvement has already been worked out - it involves altering the shape of the bubble and, for lack of a better term, oscillating it. That's why NASA is building a testbed; if they can detect an alteration of space consistent with Alcubierre's theory, we'll have what one researcher terms "the Chicago Pile moment" (when the first atomic power plant was constructed at the University of Chicago in 1942, it was only to prove that such a thing was possible; it produced about half a watt of power. Within a year, the first 4 megawatt plant came online).


There is at this time no working example of a genuine warp bubble in the physical world. It is a speculation, albeit an interesting one. Improving the shape of a non-existent bubble is, in practical terms, vapor ware. To see if that improvement will work we must first have something to improve.

ruveyn

Ruveyn, if the experiment shows that Alcubierre's theory holds water, then it can be extrapolated to include the refinement making an Alcubierre warp drive less impractical. Producing an actual Alcubierre warp sufficient for actual interplanetary or interstellar travel, without using the refinements, would require mass/energy equivalent to converting the entire planet Jupiter to energy. The refinement should be able to produce similar results for a mass/energy budget in the hundreds of kilos, rather than a planetary mass.

Thus, if an Alcubierre warp of incredibly tiny proportions can be produced in a laboratory setting, we can then proceed to attempt to construct a modified Alcubierre drive with the lower-energy refinements. Insisting on producing the original design is just silly.

(Incidentally, the researchers working on this project see its use first in interplanetary travel, rather than interstellar. It should make it possible to move between planets much more rapidly, even at sublight pseudovelocities, with a far lower energy budget than would be currently required for, say, a manned mission to Mars. Also, as has been pointed out, if something goes wrong with your prototype drive, it's a lot easier to rescue a ship that's halfway to Jupiter than one that's halfway to Tau Ceti...)


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06 Jan 2013, 9:17 pm

This is true. Besides any tests of FTL travel will have to be conducted within our solar system to be practical, after all if a ship were to attempt to communicate back to say "Jump test successful" the resulting transmission medium(laser, radio wave, etc.) would be traveling at the speed of light. Therefore, even if it were possible to jump to a location light-years away in days or even hours, doing so as an experiment would be impractical as the craft could jump back into near-earth orbit long before their signal would reach home. Keep in mind that if you're traveling faster than light, you're traveling faster than most forms of radio and optical communication. If you were to jump out to a distance of 1 AU (avg distance between Earth and Sun), send a transmission back to Earth, and then jump back, you'd essentially beat your transmission home if you could make the trip in less than 8.5 minutes. This could lead to some interesting time-lag situations regarding the tracking and communication between Earth and an FTL capable spacecraft.

That said, I can forsee the first manned FTL mission being a basic jump to say, orbit around Mars. With todays technology a manned mission to Mars would take at least half a year to make the trip, but with FTL travel we could make it in mere hours. I can guarantee our first uses of FTL tech would be to explore our solar system more thoroughly via manned missions, this would open up a lot as far as resources are concerned, we can use FTL tech to establish mining colonies on Mars, the moons of the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.), and some of the larger asteroids. This would vastly increase the amount of mineral resources available to us, and we can put these new resources to use developing a means for longer FTL trips to other star systems.


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07 Jan 2013, 12:39 am

You know - "warp bubble" transport sounds more scientifically plausible than taking something past the speed of light, since (according to Einstein's theory) that would turn an object into pure energy, then somehow have to re-materialize without changing molecular structures and killing all living things.)

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09 Jan 2013, 10:15 pm

One thing I have been thinking about would be a bosen field drive. We already know about the effects of gravity (AKA mass) and how it warps space time. If we could project a strong enough field in front of us we could warp space time to give the illusion of FTLT. Even with chemical propulsion and still still make good time. We first need to make a bosen field and isolate it from the craft. Any thoughts?


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DeaconBlues
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10 Jan 2013, 7:57 pm

Roxas_XIII wrote:
That said, I can forsee the first manned FTL mission being a basic jump to say, orbit around Mars. With todays technology a manned mission to Mars would take at least half a year to make the trip, but with FTL travel we could make it in mere hours.

Well, technically, a trip time in hours would still be STL; when we're both on the same side of the Sun, Mars is about 45 lightminutes away. An actual FTL trip would have to come in at less than that. On the other hand, STL is exactly what the researcher was talking about - by employing an Alcubierre warp, it should be possible to move things at sublight apparent velocities for less energy than just blasting across space with unaided rockets.


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10 Jan 2013, 8:24 pm

DeaconBlues wrote:
Roxas_XIII wrote:
That said, I can forsee the first manned FTL mission being a basic jump to say, orbit around Mars. With todays technology a manned mission to Mars would take at least half a year to make the trip, but with FTL travel we could make it in mere hours.

Well, technically, a trip time in hours would still be STL; when we're both on the same side of the Sun, Mars is about 45 lightminutes away. An actual FTL trip would have to come in at less than that. On the other hand, STL is exactly what the researcher was talking about - by employing an Alcubierre warp, it should be possible to move things at sublight apparent velocities for less energy than just blasting across space with unaided rockets.


May I please remind you that the "Alcubierre Warp" is a hypothetical speculation backed by no empirical data whatsoever.

There has been no working proof of concept. It is vaporware.

ruveyn



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13 Jan 2013, 3:28 am

ruveyn wrote:
DeaconBlues wrote:
Roxas_XIII wrote:
That said, I can forsee the first manned FTL mission being a basic jump to say, orbit around Mars. With todays technology a manned mission to Mars would take at least half a year to make the trip, but with FTL travel we could make it in mere hours.

Well, technically, a trip time in hours would still be STL; when we're both on the same side of the Sun, Mars is about 45 lightminutes away. An actual FTL trip would have to come in at less than that. On the other hand, STL is exactly what the researcher was talking about - by employing an Alcubierre warp, it should be possible to move things at sublight apparent velocities for less energy than just blasting across space with unaided rockets.


May I please remind you that the "Alcubierre Warp" is a hypothetical speculation backed by no empirical data whatsoever.

There has been no working proof of concept. It is vaporware.

ruveyn


That's the point of the whole article, they're saying they're attempting an experiment which will empirically prove Alcubierre's hypothesis. Honestly read the article before you start naysaying, it's that kind of uninformed negativity that I really can't stand in debates.

You keep saying there's no proof of concept, well where's YOUR proof for that? Besides even if there's no proof of concept at this time doesn't mean there won't be one in the future. Testing Alcubierre's original concept would have been impossible because of the astronomical amounts of energy it required for even a microscopic-scale test. However, if the issue of energy is resolved we can at least go about attempting a proof of concept. Again, "Chicago Pile", all we need to see is whether or not it will work or not. If it does then the real research will begin.


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13 Jan 2013, 9:28 am

Roxas_XIII wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
DeaconBlues wrote:
Roxas_XIII wrote:
That said, I can forsee the first manned FTL mission being a basic jump to say, orbit around Mars. With todays technology a manned mission to Mars would take at least half a year to make the trip, but with FTL travel we could make it in mere hours.

Well, technically, a trip time in hours would still be STL; when we're both on the same side of the Sun, Mars is about 45 lightminutes away. An actual FTL trip would have to come in at less than that. On the other hand, STL is exactly what the researcher was talking about - by employing an Alcubierre warp, it should be possible to move things at sublight apparent velocities for less energy than just blasting across space with unaided rockets.


May I please remind you that the "Alcubierre Warp" is a hypothetical speculation backed by no empirical data whatsoever.

There has been no working proof of concept. It is vaporware.

ruveyn


That's the point of the whole article, they're saying they're attempting an experiment which will empirically prove Alcubierre's hypothesis. Honestly read the article before you start naysaying, it's that kind of uninformed negativity that I really can't stand in debates.

You keep saying there's no proof of concept, well where's YOUR proof for that? Besides even if there's no proof of concept at this time doesn't mean there won't be one in the future. Testing Alcubierre's original concept would have been impossible because of the astronomical amounts of energy it required for even a microscopic-scale test. However, if the issue of energy is resolved we can at least go about attempting a proof of concept. Again, "Chicago Pile", all we need to see is whether or not it will work or not. If it does then the real research will begin.


We first need to see the results of this experiment before we can say whether this is valid. Just because someone is pursuing this at NASA, doesn't mean that warp drives are real. Further, even if this experiment does show that "warp bubbles" can be created, it doesn't mean that we will have the technology to actually use it on spaceships. From what I gather, creating a bubble large enough would require a huge amount of energy compared to the small one that would be created in that experiment. Besides which, there are still some theoretical problems with superluminal bubbles and that's before we even get to the practical side, if we ever do, that is.



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13 Jan 2013, 11:47 am

Jono wrote:

We first need to see the results of this experiment before we can say whether this is valid. Just because someone is pursuing this at NASA, doesn't mean that warp drives are real. Further, even if this experiment does show that "warp bubbles" can be created, it doesn't mean that we will have the technology to actually use it on spaceships. From what I gather, creating a bubble large enough would require a huge amount of energy compared to the small one that would be created in that experiment. Besides which, there are still some theoretical problems with superluminal bubbles and that's before we even get to the practical side, if we ever do, that is.


Bingo! Once again good sense manifests itself and triumphs over the Science Fiction Imperative.

ruveyn



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13 Jan 2013, 7:20 pm

ruveyn wrote:
Jono wrote:

We first need to see the results of this experiment before we can say whether this is valid. Just because someone is pursuing this at NASA, doesn't mean that warp drives are real. Further, even if this experiment does show that "warp bubbles" can be created, it doesn't mean that we will have the technology to actually use it on spaceships. From what I gather, creating a bubble large enough would require a huge amount of energy compared to the small one that would be created in that experiment. Besides which, there are still some theoretical problems with superluminal bubbles and that's before we even get to the practical side, if we ever do, that is.


Bingo! Once again good sense manifests itself and triumphs over the Science Fiction Imperative.

ruveyn


Even science fiction has a basis in truth. The fact that we're having this debate proves the science is possible, even if it isn't probable.

Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself thinking it will be in my lifetime. Even if it is, it'll be toward the end of my natural life and I would probably be too old and feeble to withstand superluminal space travel.


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13 Jan 2013, 7:29 pm

Warp Bubbles have been talked about for ~40 years, which is why it even exists in science fiction movies in the first place!

Can it be done? [shrug] We won't know until we try everything, find what is a step forward at all, then improve on that.

I think we aughta' mount a sub-light expedition the the closest system to us (isn't that Alpha Centauri?) Even if it takes years, or even generations, the experience would be incalculable!

Of course, I'd like to see more science thrown at optimizing our planet for life sustainability rather than profit. :?



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14 Jan 2013, 4:16 am

BlueMax wrote:
Warp Bubbles have been talked about for ~40 years ...


Only in Star Trek. Alcubierre's ideas were only published in a scientific paper in 1994, though Star Trek was an inspiration for him.



b9
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14 Jan 2013, 8:21 am

questions i have:

the way i see it, everything is relative to "observational points of reference" that are assumed to to be "still" or in a state of complete inertia with respect to their location.
i do not see that universal dynamics can only happen with respect to observational "locations". it is the limitation of "observation" that limits the idea of the speed of light to a "static" value.

which point in the universe is the point that is completely still? is it the point where the big bang sprang from? is that the only point in the universe that can truly be said to be motionless, and therefore the only location in the universe from which non relative observation is possible?

is every manifestation in the universe only truly observable from that point because it is "still"?

we are on our side of the big bang, what about the other side? if material sprang out from the big bang on our side at almost the speed of light, and also sprang out from the other side at the same speed, then relative to us, the other side is traveling away from us at almost twice the speed of light. is it only from the reference point at the location of the big bang that light has a constant speed?

do photons have mass? i suspect they do because they could not push a solar sail (or spin those executive desk toys that spin because one hemisphere of their balls are silver and the other hemisphere is black, and since black absorbs photons and silver reflects them, the structure spins in a direction away from their silver sided hemispheres (i can not find any reference to them on the internet but i clearly remember seeing them)) if they did not.

if photons have mass, then how can they travel at the speed of light (relative to their source of origin)?

as einstein pondered, "if one was on a train that is traveling at the speed of light, and if one shone a torch toward the front wall of the carriage, would the light ever be able to escape from the torch considering it would have to travel faster than light to do so?"

i think the answer is that from the passengers "point of view", the light from the torch would exit the torch at the speed of light relative to him and almost instantaneously illuminate the front wall of the carriage, but from the viewpoint of the "stationary" observer, the light would never escape the torch.


this constriction of perception relative to the observer limits understanding of what can happen in my opinion.

whether or not the dynamics of my closed system can be measured externally, it does not prohibit realities that can not be observed relative to viewpoints that are "fixed" that are traveling at greater than light speed relative to my closed system (i may consider my speed to be zero and the "fixed observer" to be traveling at the speed of light relative to me with equal validity).

when i was a child, i believed that as an object approaches light speed (away from, and relative to the central location of the big bang), then because the nuclei of atoms have electrons that orbit it in a spherical fashion, the electrons that do not orbit in a plane that is perpendicular to the direction of the big bang would have to travel faster (and slower) than light speed in order to maintain the spherical and voluminous nature of the atom. i imagined that the electrons that orbited the nuclei of atoms would flatten out to a perpendicular (to the direction of the big bang behind it) plane of orbit, and thus reduce the volume of the atom to zero, and therefore result in infinite density which implies infinite mass if there is any mass contained within an atom.

but now i am less compelled by the idea of an ultimate reference point from where everything can be observed, because everything is relative to a point of reference that is itself relative to every other point of reference in the universe.

maybe i should "go get educated" as i suspect that i may be advised.



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14 Jan 2013, 9:05 am

b9 wrote:
which point in the universe is the point that is completely still? is it the point where the big bang sprang from? is that the only point in the universe that can truly be said to be motionless, and therefore the only location in the universe from which non relative observation is possible?

.


Wrap your attention and intellect around this: There is no such thing as absolute rest. Period. That matter was settled empirically during the time of Galileo.

In every inertial co-ordinate system the speed of light comes out to be the same number.

At light speed, velocities DO NOT add.



b9
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14 Jan 2013, 9:54 am

ruveyn wrote:
b9 wrote:
which point in the universe is the point that is completely still? is it the point where the big bang sprang from? is that the only point in the universe that can truly be said to be motionless, and therefore the only location in the universe from which non relative observation is possible?

.


Wrap your attention and intellect around this: There is no such thing as absolute rest. Period. That matter was settled empirically during the time of Galileo.

In every inertial co-ordinate system the speed of light comes out to be the same number.

At light speed, velocities DO NOT add.


at the end of my post i said
Quote:
but now i am less compelled by the idea of an ultimate reference point from where everything can be observed, because everything is relative to a point of reference that is itself relative to every other point of reference in the universe.

so i agree with what you said about absolute "rest", but i suspect you would be offended that i say "i agree" because i think you think i have not the capacity to "agree", but to merely "accept" because i have insufficient intelligence to consider the matter on my own.

can you explain why you are certain of what you say or are you simply quoting to me what you believe to be true based only on what you have read that was concluded by people who you defer your own consideration to?

my questions may insult your intelligence, and you may reply with what you have read from people who are vastly smarter than i am, but that does not help me to understand why what you say is so. your attitude of "don't think about it , just accept that the masters have the answers and wear them" does not help me internalize why what you say is true.

if your next reply will be something along the lines of "you are not smart enough to ponder such things as these, " then do not bother.

i apply my mind to the degree that i am capable of to understanding what perplexes me.

in my mind, there must be a point in the universe which is at total equilibrium or else there could be no such thing as duality, but i will reserve my speculations to my own private musings in future because the saliva that drips from the fangs of intellectual predators in PPR is toxic to me.

it is the tone in which you replied that caused my response to be what it is.