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View Diary: So, About that Warp Drive...and space in general... (183 comments)

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  •  What happens when external photons... (7+ / 0-)

    are in the head-on path of this warp bubble, and in particular the effect of these photon collisions on the persons and materials being propelled inside. In particular, I'm wondering about the effect of physical Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) blackbody photons as they collide with this warp craft and its occupants. Now in our Earth's frame of reference, the number density of CMB photons is non-neglible:
    nγ = 4.11 x 108 m–3 (or about 411 CMB photons per cubic centimeter).
    However, the mean energy of these 2.7 K blackbody CMB photons is small:
    Emean = 6.34 x 10–4 eV (where of course the energies are spread over a blackbody distribution with a narrower lower-energy tail and a wider higher-energy tail).

    I don't know what the answer here is. If this was a Special Relativistic collision between a photon and an object (which this is obviously not, since it's really a collision between a photon and moving warped space), as the object approaches high speed, the CMB photons get blue-shifted up in their collision energy (more so as you approach the speed of light), possibly to X-ray or gamma ray ionizing levels for which you may then have to consider radiation protection. Of course this case is instead a soliton-like warped wave-packet of space that is flying by with material people and objects inside and colliding head-on with CMB photons, so would require a much more detailed and informed General Relativistic enquiry beyond my understanding at present. Still I wonder what the interaction would be between the ubiquitous CMB photons and a superluminal warp drive craft and whether that would produce any deleterious effects on the craft's occupants or the craft itself.

    Thank you for this thought provoking diary. I've downloaded the paper and will study it further and think about its problems and implications--like the necessary (and unobtainable) negative mass (which is likely impossible to overcome, at least in large quantities beyond that produced by quantum mechanical vacuum fluctuations like the Casimir effect), how to turn on and off the damn thing, and how quantum mechanics could complicate things (like would you need to consider particle-like quantum mechanical gravitons instead of a smooth General Relativistic gravity at these speeds; unfortunately no generally accepted or confirmed theory of quantum gravity exists at present, although Superstring Theory and Quantum Loop Gravity are two ideas being studied).

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, ... there are few die well that die in a battle; ... Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; — Shakespeare, ‘Henry V’

    by dewtx on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 11:27:01 AM PDT

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