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## Hyperdrive Propulsion Could Be Tested At the LHC322

KentuckyFC writes "In 1924, the influential German mathematician David Hilbert calculated that a stationary mass should repel a particle moving towards or away from it at more than half the speed of light (as seen by a distant inertial observer). Now an American physicist has pointed out that the equal and opposite effect should also hold true: that a relativistic particle should repel a stationary mass. This, he says, could form the basis of a 'hypervelocity propulsion drive' for accelerating spacecraft to a good fraction of the speed of light. The idea is that the repulsion allows the relativistic particle to deliver a specific impulse that is greater than its specific momentum, an effect that is analogous to the elastic collision of a heavy mass with a much lighter, stationary mass, from which the lighter mass rebounds with about twice the speed of the heavy mass. Unlike other exotic hyperdrive proposals, this one can be tested using the world's largest particle accelerator, the LHC, which will generate beams of particles with the required energy (abstract). Placing a test mass next to the beam line and measuring the forces on it as the particles pass by should confirm the theory — or scupper it entirely."
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## Hyperdrive Propulsion Could Be Tested At the LHC

• #### ! hyperdrive (Score:5, Informative)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:16AM (#29680739)

I think most/all of us take the term "hyperdrive" to imply FTL speeds.

This technology doesn't claim to achieve that.

• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:19AM (#29680775)

I agree, it should be downgraded to the less impressive and more hierarchically correct megadrive or perhaps superdrive.

• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:29AM (#29680911) Journal

Can they still go plaid at those speeds?

• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:26AM (#29681639) Homepage

No, hyperdrive isn't sufficient to go to plaid. For that you need a system capable of ludicrous speed. </pendantic>

• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:4, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:54PM (#29684251) Journal
You have stopped swinging from a chain?
• #### Re: (Score:3, Informative)

I agree, it should be downgraded to the less impressive and more hierarchically correct megadrive or perhaps superdrive.

What do the Sega Genesis [wikipedia.org] and Apple DVD recorder [wikipedia.org] have to do with relativistic spacecraft engines?

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Then it would have a perfect name, considering the techno-babble in Star Trek.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

The problem is that hyper or super don't belong to the SI.

I propose that we should use kilodrive for it, so we can upgrade it to megadrive or gigadrive when the technology becomes more refined, or downgrade it to just drive if it is proven useless.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Because we apparently consider hyperdrives to be hyperlightdrives, we should call it a hypodrive. A simple drive would be a equal to lightspeed propulsion system.
• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:4, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:48AM (#29681915)

Naw, the MegaDrive was a dog; even when they called it the "Genesis". I'd rather have an SNES.

The SuperDrive is pretty cool, though. Makes a nice add-on to your Mac.

• #### Re: (Score:2, Funny)

"Helm, full impulse." Ah, Impulse engines..
• #### Re: (Score:2)

True. This is more of a Relativisitc Drive.

• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:5, Funny)

<bughunter@eTEAar ... t minus caffeine> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:31AM (#29680947) Journal
Agreed. The only 'hyper' in this story is hyperbole.
• #### No, you've missed the point Re:! hyperdrive (Score:5, Interesting)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:01PM (#29684321) Homepage

The point of the drive is not that it enables light speed, or that it saves energy, because it doesn't do either.

The point of the drive is that it would accelerate you and you *don't* feel it!

The drive would accelerate you by gravity. Just like the International Space Station astronauts are still falling towards the Earth, but they can't feel it- you can't feel relativistic gravity either.

So you could accelerate at 1000 times the Earth's surface gravity if you wanted, and not even spill your coffee (potentially, if it works, and it should do).

Of course scaling up an effect that is only faintly sensed on an accelerator the size of the LHC is left as an exercise to the reader ;-), but it's fundamental research and you never know where it could lead.

• #### Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

You could use this to insulate a crew capsule from the effects of acceleration. A more conventional starship could be accelerating at 10G, 100G or even more, and a onboard particle accelerator could be in turn pushing the crew habitat ahead of the starship by this means.

The occupants would experience freefall.
• #### Re: (Score:2, Informative)

How could parent be redundant? It's 1) stamped two minutes after the article's post time, and 2) currently the only comment based on the common SF use of 'hyperdrive' as a synonym for 'superluminal.'

(Normally I would correct such clueless moderation, but I posted in this thread already.)

• #### Re:! hyperdrive (Score:5, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:11AM (#29681457) Homepage
When we get a "-1, Statement of the Bloody Obvious that Every 3rd Nerd Will Be Compelled to Make", we can use that.

• #### Re: (Score:3, Informative)

It was an Impulse drive that launched Sputnik and every other object we have sent into space.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

I think most/all of us take the term "hyperdrive" to imply FTL speeds.

Yeah. Actually, it makes me think we're going to form the Galaxy Rangers and take on the Queen of the Crown and her Slaver Lords.

(Too obscure?)

• #### Re: (Score:2)

I think most/all of us take the term "hyperdrive" to imply FTL speeds.

Yeah. Actually, it makes me think we're going to form the Galaxy Rangers and take on the Queen of the Crown and her Slaver Lords.

(Too obscure?)

• #### Sounds great, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:17AM (#29680741)

It could be tested at the LHC if it ever manages to stay working for more than a month at a time, that is. :(

• #### Re:Sounds great, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:31AM (#29680949) Homepage
It hasn't "worked" fully at all, yet. But it is one of the more complex science instruments on the planet, not a Toyota Pickup truck at the garage. Give them time and it'll do its job... unless some twelve-year old Chinese prodigy figures out a way to do the same stuff in his lunch box.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

It hasn't "worked" fully at all, yet. But it is one of the more complex science instruments on the planet, not a Toyota Pickup truck at the garage. Give them time and it'll do its job... unless some twelve-year old Chinese prodigy figures out a way to do the same stuff in his lunch box.

Who would be immediately lynched by the scientific community because no one likes a smart ass.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Or at least seriously wedgied.

Still, as is traditional, I - for one - would welcome our slightly limping, lunch-box particle-accelerator wielding, junior overlords.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

So, do you think there is hot tea in that Chinese prodigy's lunch box? Great source of relativistic particles and Brownian motion.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

But it is one of the more complex science instruments on the planet, not a Delorean at the garage.

Hey, Doc managed it with just 1.21 GW.

• #### One thing... (Score:3, Interesting)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:18AM (#29680757) Journal

"calculated that a stationary mass should repel a particle moving towards or away from it at more than half the speed of light"

So, how do I slow down while going half he speed of light?

I see the advent of a new industry: space crash landings

• #### One More Thing... (Score:5, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:42AM (#29681085) Homepage

While testing this on the ground, just make sure you're not actually moving the Earth...

• #### Re: (Score:2)

I move the Earth every time I fart (or do anything else)
• #### Re: (Score:2)

Anything you're moving towards should push you away, so you'll slow down automatically when you get close to anything.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

Slow down/crash into/be bumped off course? I'm pretty sure you'd still be going fast enough to be screwed if you were heading straight at something.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

"calculated that a stationary mass should repel a particle moving towards or away from it at more than half the speed of light"

So, how do I slow down while going half he speed of light?

According to what you have in quotes, approaching a stationary mass ought to do the job.

• #### First Contact.. (Score:2, Funny)

With something so simple as to elastic collision, who would have thunk it?

Theoretically it makes sense, and what's cool about it is that it can be done with today's technology.

Pretty cool.

Next thing you know we'll have Romulans visiting. I'm liking all of this already..

• #### So what happens when... (Score:2, Funny)

There's a hyperdriven black hole careering all around Northern Europe? That's a hot mess waiting to happen.
• #### Re: (Score:3, Funny)

There's a hyperdriven black hole careering all around Northern Europe? That's a hot mess waiting to happen.

It's like that childrens' book, "If you give a black hold a continent..."

• #### Great test of General Relativity (Score:5, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:26AM (#29680871) Homepage

Apart from being a potential nifty space drive, it would also provide a new test of General Relativity. This is far more likely to get it done as a real experiment at the LHC, than a new space drive.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

This is a test of Special Relativity, not General Relativity.

• #### Oct 8th, Warp Drive Day. (Score:3, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:33AM (#29680967)
First we have the means to power the thing in the works. http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/10/08/0316200/Design-Starting-For-Matter-Antimatter-Collider [slashdot.org]

And now they're getting the theory down for building it.

Its only a matter of time (pun intended) till this plays out and turns into the world's first hyperdrive.

• #### Re:Oct 8th, Warp Drive Day. (Score:4, Informative)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:41AM (#29681067)

Its only a matter of time (pun intended) till this plays out and turns into the world's first hyperdrive.

It's only a matter of time until we're all consumed in a fiery death

• #### Re: (Score:2)

It's only a matter of time until we're all consumed in a fiery death

You'd rather we never research long-distance travel methods, but instead sit here and wait for the sun to explode? :-P

• #### power (Score:2, Funny)

Has that thing got a Hemi in it?

• #### Reminds me of Elite (Score:3, Interesting)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:44AM (#29681099)

Where hyperspeed was possible unless there were ships or asteroids nearby. In that case you became "mass locked" So it turns out that more than just a gimmick to skip the boring bits of the game, mass does indeed interfere with fast moving objects.

• #### Sounds more like an... (Score:2)

This sounds more like an "impulse drive" to me. I'm growing more convinced every day that Gene Roddenberry came to us from the future.
• #### Dibs on Andromeda. (Score:3, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:32AM (#29681697) Journal
OK. Me first. Got dibs on Andromeda. Poor chaps what will they do when they discover that we had filed the plans to build a highway through them and taped it to the underside of a sink in an unused bath room in a dark basement guarded by leopards?
• #### "Now an American physicist..." (Score:3, Funny)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:33AM (#29681717)

Zephram Cochrane?

• #### Re: (Score:2)

We better keep an eye out for a Borg invasion coming from 300 years in the future to try and destabilize the LHC.
• #### Passive propulsion (Score:2)

So hey, physics dudes... would this work? A space ship that's black on one side and white on the other. The white side reflects light, the black side absorbs it... besides being warmer than the white side would it slowly begin to move? Maybe a millimeter a century or so? :) Long range probes I guess.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

The black side would get 1 kick per photon, the reflective side 2 kicks per photon. Net result, 1 kick. A better idea would be a mirror sail that transmits light on one face, and reflects it on the other.
• #### Another wonderful physics article (Score:2)

"thereby achieving speeds greater than the driving particle's speed"

I'm pretty sure Hilbert didn't include that statement.

• #### Other Potential Outcome (Score:2)

Placing a test mass next to the beam line and measuring the forces on it as the particles pass by should confirm the theory â" or scupper it entirely.

...or launch the test mass into the wall of the LHC at half the speed of light.

• #### Classic SciFi Answer (Score:3, Insightful)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @12:52PM (#29682795) Homepage

The Scientist's name is Felber, therefore the small fraction of light speed drive would likely be known as the Felber Drive.

If that doesn't sound sexy enough for you try the Hilbert-Felber Drive.

If you really want it to be metal, stick an umlaut in there somewhere.

• #### Evaluating the claimed effect (Score:4, Interesting)

on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:24PM (#29685351)
A colleague of mine asked if I thought this was possible or hokum. The authors own "paper" (unpublished preprint, linked above) contains a rather lot of self-references to other unpublished preprints, usually a sign of some level of crack-pottedness. Also, his own numbers in the abstract for this idea (an acceleration of 3 nm/s^2 for 2 ns) make this completely unworkable. That corresponds to a displacement of a test mass of 1.5 x 10^-35 m. The most sensitive displacement detectors are the laser gravitational wave observatories, each of which are a pair of perpendicular 10km Fabry-Perot cavities. These detectors have a sensitivity of about 10^-18 m. That's seventeen orders of magnitude difference. On an amusing note, that displacement is actually the same order of magnitude as the "Planck length". I can't help but wonder whether the author engaged in some silly numerology in order to get it to work out that way.

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