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Old 08-29-2013, 11:12 AM   #1
Alex_Spider
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Default Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

http://www.space.com/22430-star-trek...thrusters.html

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DALLAS Warp-drive technology, a form of "faster than light" travel popularized by TV's "Star Trek," could be bolstered by the physics of quantum thrusters another science-fiction idea made plausible by modern science.

NASA scientists are performing experiments that could help make warp drive a possibility sometime in the future from a lab built for the Apollo program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

A warp-drive-enabled spacecraft would look like a football with two large rings fully encircling it. The rings would utilize an exotic form of matter to cause space-time to contract in front of and expand behind them. Harold "Sonny" White, a NASA physicist, is experimenting with these concepts on a smaller scale using a light-measuring device in the lab. [Warp Drives and Transporters: How 'Star Trek' Tech Works (Infographic)]

"We're looking for a change in path length of the photon on the interferometer, because that would be potential evidence that we're generating the effect we're looking for," White told SPACE.com. "We've seen, in a couple different experiments with several different analytic techniques, a change in optical-path length. We're making one leg of the interferometer seem a little shorter because of this device being on, versus the device being off. That doesn't mean that it's what we're looking for."

While these results are intriguing, they are in no way definitive proof that warp drive could work, White said. The scaled-down experiments are just a first step toward understanding if these concepts can be taken out of the realm of theory and applied practically.

Quantum thrust through space-time

Quantum-thruster physics, another technology White is looking into at NASA, could be the key to creating the fuel needed for a warp drive.

These electric "q-thrusters" work as a submarine does underwater, except they're in the vacuum of space, White told the crowd here at Starship Congress on Aug. 17. The spacecraft is theoretically propelled through space by stirring up the cosmic soup, causing quantum-level perturbations. The resulting thrust is similar to that created by a submersible moving through water.

The technology produces negative vacuum energy, a key ingredient for an exotic-matter-powered warp-drive engine.

"The physics models that tell us how to construct a q-thruster are the same models we'll use to generate, design and build a negative vacuum generator," White said. "The quantum thrusters might be a propulsion manifestation of the physics, like the big ring around the spacecraft. If you looked in there, there might be 10,000 of these little cans that are the negative vacuum generators."

White wants to try to apply the quantum-thruster physics models the researchers have been working with in the lab to their work with warp drive.

"We have measured a force in several test devices which is a consequence of perturbing the state of the quantum vacuum," White said. The effect has been small but significant in his experimentation. Going forward, White hopes to do more robust testing to possibly magnify those claims.

Do the time warp

The warp-drive ship itself would never be going faster than the speed of light, but the warped space-time around it could help the spacecraft achieve an effective speed of 10 times the speed of light within the confines of White's concept.

When first proposed by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994, the warp drive would have required huge, unreasonable amounts of energy, but White's work brought those numbers down. Previous studies extrapolated that the drive would need energy equal to the mass energy of Jupiter.

"In the early epoch of the universe, there was a very short period known as inflation," said Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar. "We believe that during that inflationary period, space-time itself expanded at many times the speed of light, so there are tantalizing questions when you look at nature as a teacher. Is this something that can be duplicated around the vicinity of a spacecraft?"

Now, White thinks the drive could be powered by a collection of exotic mass about the size of NASA's Voyager 1 probe if the rings housing the mass were shaped like a donut and oscillate over time.
Please, make it happen already.

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Old 08-29-2013, 05:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

Weird, all the time I hear how this sort of thing isn't possible. Now it is possible? Make up your damn mind science!

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Old 08-29-2013, 09:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

A lot of "impossible" things are now possible or will be possible. Obviously it won't be Star Trek warp engines but the closest analogue we can make.

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Old 08-30-2013, 02:10 AM   #4
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

Engage.

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Old 08-30-2013, 02:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

I heard about this same experiment years ago (football shaped spacecraft with rings). It seems like the same science stories keep getting recycled every 5 years.

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Old 08-30-2013, 03:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

Or you know, there are basic design concepts being carried over and tested in several different experiments.

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Old 08-30-2013, 03:38 AM   #7
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Engage.
Warp factor 8 Lieutenant !

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Old 08-30-2013, 04:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

So maybe we should start ****ING FUNDING NASA SOME MORE!

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Old 08-30-2013, 09:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mike_D202 View Post
I heard about this same experiment years ago (football shaped spacecraft with rings). It seems like the same science stories keep getting recycled every 5 years.
Various “warp drive” designs have existed for a number of years. One is Kip Thorne’s “artificial wormhole” concept (where a “tunnel” provides the warp effect). The other is the “Alcubierre Drive” (where the spaceship - a la Star Trek - does its own warping). These solutions are real/possible in that they are consistent with Einstein’s equations (i.e., they don’t violate known physics). But substantial practical barriers are still entailed. For instance, they all require so-called “exotic matter” (negative mass matter) - which we don’t yet have. Also, the warp drives require prodigious amounts of energy. Originally, I believe the Alcubierre Drive needed a quantity of energy that exceeded what is in the known Universe. Now (according to the article) they’ve got it down to only the mass/energy of Jupiter. But that’s still a level of engineering tech that we won’t have anytime “soon” (the word used in the thread title ).

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Old 08-30-2013, 09:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

Going from all the energy in the entire universe to the size of Jupiter is what I'd call a big step in the right direction. Still not where we'll be flying around at warp speed any time soon but it's a huge advancement (in theory).

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Old 08-30-2013, 09:35 AM   #11
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

As a layman, as best I understand it, all of this is still very much in the early theoritical/experimental stage and we're a loooooooooooong way off from a ship with a working warp drive.

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Old 08-30-2013, 09:42 AM   #12
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Think of it this way: Your smart phone is more powerful than the entire planet's computer processing ability combined 30 years ago*. We've literally gone from big clunky computers that took up a large space on a desk, could barely function as a word processor in primitive 2-tone graphics to a hand held device that makes phone calls, plays games with better graphics than what we had 20 years ago and can do a lot more while you merely touch the screen. No keyboard or mouse required. Not to mention near instantaenous access to all the knowledge of Google and Wikipedia.

We're advancing at a very fast pace right now so it's possible it will happen within our lifetime (provided you're not in your 70's or something) but it is still all theory at this point and it may turn out none of them are practical.

* Maybe slightly exaggerated

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Old 08-30-2013, 10:30 AM   #13
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Warp factor 8 Lieutenant !
Both of you guys forgot, you must clear space dock first. "Take her out Mr. Sulu".

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

The human brain is not powerful enough to deem things like this to be possible or impossible. Most of our current technology, near instant video stream from across the other side of the world and aeroplane flight across continents, nevermind space travel, or the concept of space itself would all have seemed utterly impossible in cave man times.

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:10 PM   #15
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Both of you guys forgot, you must clear space dock first. "Take her out Mr. Sulu".
Mr Sulu ! Mr Sulu ? Man, you're so original series !

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:13 PM   #16
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Weird, all the time I hear how this sort of thing isn't possible. Now it is possible? Make up your damn mind science!
That's why i disagree when those that don't think Alien life never visited Earth couldn't do it because it's impossible to travel fast enough.

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:18 PM   #17
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Please, make it happen already.
I think you meant to say, "Make it so."

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:46 PM   #18
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Think of it this way: Your smart phone is more powerful than the entire planet's computer processing ability combined 30 years ago*. We've literally gone from big clunky computers that took up a large space on a desk, could barely function as a word processor in primitive 2-tone graphics to a hand held device that makes phone calls, plays games with better graphics than what we had 20 years ago and can do a lot more while you merely touch the screen. No keyboard or mouse required. Not to mention near instantaenous access to all the knowledge of Google and Wikipedia.

We're advancing at a very fast pace right now so it's possible it will happen within our lifetime (provided you're not in your 70's or something) but it is still all theory at this point and it may turn out none of them are practical.

* Maybe slightly exaggerated
Yeah, it's crazy to think that a simple app on my phone is far more advanced than the entire system used to get man to the moon.

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:56 PM   #19
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Don't people drive fast enough already?

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Old 08-30-2013, 01:17 PM   #20
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Mr Sulu ! Mr Sulu ? Man, you're so original series !
Well of course, you have to go with the one that started it all.

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Old 08-30-2013, 02:12 PM   #21
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I think you meant to say, "Make it so."
Oh, thanks for correcting me.

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Old 08-30-2013, 11:14 PM   #22
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

Knowing our luck, am after effect of the warp drive destroys the planet. ...hey, that would make a good scifi thriller/drama

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Old 08-31-2013, 12:07 AM   #23
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Default Re: Warp Drive Could Soon Become Reality

Again, engage.

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