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July 24, 2013

Scientist Claims He's Demonstrated Warp Drive's Feasibility on a Microscopic Scale

Some good news. Maybe we get to leave this POS planet.

Einstein famously postulated that, as Dr. White put it, “thou shalt not exceed the speed of light,” essentially setting a galactic speed limit. But in 1994, a Mexican physicist, Miguel Alcubierre, theorized that faster-than-light speeds were possible in a way that did not contradict Einstein, though Dr. Alcubierre did not suggest anyone could actually construct the engine that could accomplish that.

His theory involved harnessing the expansion and contraction of space itself. Under Dr. Alcubierre’s hypothesis, a ship still couldn’t exceed light speed in a local region of space. But a theoretical propulsion system he sketched out manipulated space-time by generating a so-called “warp bubble” that would expand space on one side of a spacecraft and contract it on another.

“In this way, the spaceship will be pushed away from the Earth and pulled towards a distant star by space-time itself,” Dr. Alcubierre wrote. Dr. White has likened it to stepping onto a moving walkway at an airport.

But Dr. Alcubierre’s paper was purely theoretical, and suggested insurmountable hurdles. Among other things, it depended on large amounts of a little understood or observed type of “exotic matter” that violates typical physical laws.

Dr. White believes that advances he and others have made render warp speed less implausible. Among other things, he has redesigned the theoretical warp-traveling spacecraft — and in particular a ring around it that is key to its propulsion system — in a way that he believes will greatly reduce the energy requirements.

He is quick to offer up his own caveats, however, saying his warp research is akin to a university science project that is just trying to prove that a microscopic warp bubble can be detected in a lab. ”We’re not bolting this to a spacecraft,” he said of the warp technology.

Dr. Alcubierre, meanwhile, doesn't believe this project will succeed at all, and in fact seems to think the method of transportation he argued was plausible is in fact implausible.

He's got a weird take: If you create a "front" of contracting spacetime in front of your vehicle, moving faster than the speed of light, well, you can never shut it off, because there is no signal/method of creation that can ever reach that front -- any energy or signal you're employing to control the front can only move at the speed of light, so the front will always be out of the grasp of your ship's controls.

In fact, that's the easier case to understand; he goes on to say that not only could you never have a signal/means of manipulation fast enough to turn the front off, you could also never have one fast enough to even turn it on.

Then again, he's a White Hispanic so, you know.


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posted by Ace at 02:25 PM

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