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Space Transportation Science

Introducing the Warpship 361

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fastest-ship-in-the-west dept.
astroengine writes "Dr. Richard Obousy, a guy who has put modern science into the warp drive, has designed his very own warpship. Now, for the first time, he's shared it with the world. It might not be the sleek Starship Enterprise, but its structure has been optimized to harness local 'dark energy,' generating a warp bubble so faster-than-light velocities are possible." Now, the only question is: will the ship achieve faster-than-light travel ... or will the company hit those speeds once it has enough money from investors?
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Introducing the Warpship

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  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:18PM (#28339965)

    I told them to say warship instead of worship. Stupid spiders.

    (will be downmodded before anyone gets the reference.)

  • by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:23PM (#28340047) Homepage

    Didn't Novikov solve that problem [wikipedia.org]?

  • by bhima (46039) * <Bhima,Pandava&gmail,com> on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:34PM (#28340279) Journal

    "Orbo is based upon time variant magnetic interactions, i.e. magnetic interactions whose efficiency varies as a function of transaction timeframes."

    So. Are they selling electric motors or perpetual energy devices?

  • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Monday June 15, 2009 @05:01PM (#28340671) Homepage
    I actually know this guy (he was a grad student where/when I was an undergrad). He's not crazy and at least mostly not a crank (I only say mostly because it's never possible to judge that sort of thing perfectly). The article, like most crappy science journalism, doesn't really go into details, so I'll try to recall for you all the contents of a talk I heard him give to a small group once.

    The basic idea, which you can probably get from the article, is to construct an Alcubierre bubble or Alcubierre warp drive. The Alcubierre bubble is a genuine solution to the Einstein field equations of general relativity; it is a spacetime metric which could conceivably exist. Part of the trouble with making one is that you (at least naively) need exotic matter of some sort (tachyons, negative mass, etc) in order to do it, but we obviously don't know of any exotic matter at all presently. What you really want is to make spacetime contract ahead of you and expand behind you. Well, we do know of something that makes spacetime expand: dark energy! So, if we had some way of manipulating the local strength of dark energy, then we could make spacetime expand behind us faster than normal and expand in front of us slower than normal (or maybe contract, I can't remember exactly how far that side of things went). There are apparently some suggestive features of superstring theory that indicate that we might be able to use the Casimir effect and/or cause an expansion or contraction of string theory's predicted extra compact dimensions to affect the local strength of dark energy. Here's another failure in memory, as I remember that the Casimir effect and extra dimensions were both involved, but don't remember which one was supposed to affect the other and which was supposed to affect dark energy. This is about all I can remember. My apologies that it is not more complete.

    Now, all this is of course very speculative. It depends on some things being true which might or might not be true. The existence of dark energy is at least strongly indicated by astrophysical data, whether or not it has a local strength is not known at all. The Casimir effect is quite well established. Compact extra dimensions and the rest of string theory remain a very good candidate for physics, but are of course notoriously difficult to test. If all of these things eventually work out, then Richard's ideas should work quite nicely. If any of them don't, then all bets are off; I don't know how his analysis would change then.

    Of course, even a few years ago when I heard all this presented, it was much more thoroughly developed. You have my poor memory to blame for a very incomplete and fuzzy account. I have no doubt he's been developing it further in the last couple of years.
  • Re:Futurama? (Score:2, Informative)

    by canonymous (1445409) on Monday June 15, 2009 @05:32PM (#28341031)

    "The ship stays where it is, and the engines move the universe around it."

    That's preposterous!

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday June 15, 2009 @06:25PM (#28341589) Homepage

    I'll give a couple of examples, one using special relativity and one involving some general relativity, to amplify a little on what Geoffrey Landis said above.

    Let's start with a couple of definitions. An "event" in relativity means a combination of time and place. Event B is defined as lying outside event A's light cone if the distance from A to B, in light-years, is greater than the time-difference between A and B, in years.

    Example #1: Suppose that faster-than-light (FTL) were possible. Then it would be possible for event A to cause event B, where B lies outside A's light cone. You could simply travel in your FTL spaceship, starting at A and ending up at B, where you'd deliver a message. But according to special relativity, the time-ordering of events is not as absolute as in classical physics, because observers in different frames of reference disagree on the flow of time. Suppose the original setup was described according to one observer, O1, and now we have a second observer, O2, who is moving relative to O1 at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. If the speed of the relative motion is high enough, then you can always get a situation where O2 says B happened before A, rather than after A. (This only happens if B is outside A's light cone.) So O1 says A caused B, but O2 says B caused A.

    Example #2: In general relativity, wormhole is a possible way to travel between different places, but since time and space are treated on the same footing in general relativity, there's every reason to believe that if wormholes exist, they would also go between different times, i.e., they would be time machines. But let's suppose for the sake of argument that you come across a wormhole that only goes between different places, with both mouths being synchronized in time. This would seem like FTL without time travel. But such a wormhole can always be used for time-travel as well. One method is to use gravitational fields to accelerate one mouth of the wormhole in some direction, bring it to a stop, and then use a similar acceleration and deceleration to bring it back to where it started. When you do this, you get something exactly like the twin "paradox" of special relavitity; the wormholes' times are no longer synchronized. So now if your no-time-travel FTL has been turned into FTL with time travel.

    There's nothing special about these two examples. The idea that FTL naturally makes time travel possible is tightly bound to the structure of relativity. Since time travel seems to lead to causality paradoxes (e.g., going back in time and killing yourself), the conclusion seems to be that FTL leads to paradoxes, and that makes physicists suspect that FTL isn't actually physically possible.

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday June 15, 2009 @06:47PM (#28341795) Homepage

    Throw yourself at a clock, and miss. What's so hard about that?

  • by hotdoghead (1577461) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:07PM (#28342555)
    Here's his paper: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0712/0712.1649v6.pdf [arxiv.org] Besides discussing a mechanism, he also does some quick calculations about how much energy would be required to use this method to fly at light-speed. "Let us consider a spacecraft of dimensions 10 m x 10 m x 10 m ... The total amount of energy 'injected' locally would equal 10^45 J ... roughly the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter."

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