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According to Dr. Harold White of NASA's advanced propulsion physics laboratory at Johnson Space Center, new calculations indicate that something similar to Star Trek's Warp Drive is "plausible and worth further investigation." And according to Dr. White, they plan on testing the feasibility of the idea in the laboratory.

One of the consequences of Einstein's theory of special relativity is that the speed of light effectively becomes a universal speed limit for moving objects. As an object approaches the speed of light freaky things start happening. Time slows down (dilation) and the object's mass approaches infinity since the energy which an object has due to its motion will add to its mass. At the speed of light (c), the object would have infinite mass. And since an object with infinite mass would be pretty damn hard for anyone to push, going the speed of light under those circumstances is nigh-impossible let alone going any faster.

The theories behind Warp Drive attempt to circumvent the limitation. While Einstein's limitations in special relativity would apply to an object attempting to go faster than the speed of light, nothing in general relativity forbids space itself from moving faster than light. In fact, Cosmic Inflation Theory says the universe did exactly that after the Big Bang, when for less than a second there was exponential expansion. This is the explanation for the "Horizon Problem" (i.e. why if nothing can go faster than light are the edges of the observable universe nearly 28 billion light years apart if the universe is only 14 billion years old?). The idea of Warp Drive is that manipulation of space can be used to move a ship from point A to point B faster than light.

From CBS News:

A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel -- a concept popularized in television's Star Trek -- may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say. A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, however subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.

Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.

"There is hope," [said] Harold "Sonny" White of NASA's Johnson Space Center...  previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter.

But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.

Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found.

"The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation," White told "The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab."

NASA Eagleworks, a "skunkworks" operation at NASA's Johnson Space Center, will attempt a proof of concept. They have "initiated an interferometer test bed that will try to generate and detect a microscopic instance of a little warp bubble" using an instrument called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer.
"We're trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million," White said.
In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a metric for expanding the fabric of space behind an object into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the object. Since then there's been many objections and modifications to the idea, with this latest iteration claiming to bring down the energy requirement. However, the main tenets of the idea have stayed the same. A ship inside a Warp bubble would ride the warping of space around it like a surfboard riding a wave. Since the ship is stationary within the bubble, it effectively circumvents Einstein's speed limit & other side effects. There might not be a need for "inertial dampers" (except maybe when going into or coming out of Warp), no increase in mass, and there isn't any time dilation.
From Gizmodo:
The Eagleworks team has discovered that the energy requirements are much lower than previously thought. If they optimize the warp bubble thickness and "oscillate its intensity to reduce the stiffness of space time," they would be able to reduce the amount of fuel to manageable amount: instead of a Jupiter-sized ball of exotic matter, you will only need 500 kilograms to "send a 10-meter bubble (32.8 feet) at an effective velocity of 10c."

Ten c! That's ten times the speed of light, people (remember, the ship itself would not go faster than the speed of light. But effectively it will seem like it does).

That means that we would be able to visit Gliese 581g—a planet similar to Earth 20 light years away from our planet—in two years. Two years is nothing. It took Magellan three years to circumnavigate around our home planet—from August 1519 to September 1522.

Of course, all of this is decades, if not centuries away from becoming a reality even if the tests bear out. Also, there are many other significant hurdles to overcome, even if the math is right. For one thing, the warp bubble necessary to create the effect would probably need something more than just regular unleaded gasoline. In fact, it would need something with a little bit more kick; exotic matter (i.e. matter with negative mass).

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips/Flames (70+ / 0-)

    "As you know, one of the joys of Star Trek, for me, has been the variety of our fans. When I go to conventions and I see people of all sizes and shapes and abilities, and when I see people with nerve disorders that can’t really sit properly and so on, I still know what’s in their mind. They are saying, "In a better world, I can do anything. I’ll be there in a better world. In a better world, they will not laugh at me or look down their nose at me."

    -Gene Roddenberry

  •  Well, we've pretty well screwed up this planet (8+ / 0-)

    without learning a effing thing,  the last thing the rest of the galaxy needs is an infection like us.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel. Abraham Lincoln

    by Nailbanger on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:14:26 PM PDT

  •  I still see the forward edge hitting warp, while (10+ / 0-)

    the rest of the body is still at sublight speed, thus ripping the vessel apart.

    Even setting aside almost all skepticism, there is still that transition between Newtonian and Einsteinean space, which must happen instantaneously and uniformly across the x,y, and z planes.

    I suppose that's why they have the concept of the 'warp bubble' so that they can pretend to create this perfect neutral field transition in a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second.

    Otherwise, it's all twisted metal and hamburger, at best.

  •  All I can say to this is (11+ / 0-)

    "Four more years!" (Obama Unencumbered - The Sequel)

    by jwinIL14 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:20:57 PM PDT

  •  I had to double check that the date is not 4/1 (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Rimjob, KenBee, glbTVET, ColoTim

    I'm still not convinced it isn't.

    OTOH, we already have cloaking devices.

  •  That's why progressives ought to be utopians again (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Rimjob, walkshills, G2geek

    Because tomorrow's way of life is yesterday's crazy idea. (But watch out for fundamentalist utopians who think mucking up the present is worth the price of a glorious future.)

  •  You sank my starship! ☺ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, KenBee, ColoTim
  •  But the creature is inside out (3+ / 0-)

    And it exploded.

  •  I wonder how experiments are going (8+ / 0-)

    with the Casimir engine?

    If viable, it could eliminate the need for exotic matter as a power source.

    Thanks for this. It brightened my day.

    Live long, and prosper.

    There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

    by Phil T Duck on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:28:11 PM PDT

  •  This is one of those things I want to be true (7+ / 0-)

    I've seen this principle applied in more than one relatively recent sci-fi novel. As I am not physicist (though I had aspirations in that direction when I was young I simply could not handle the necessary math), it's difficult for me to assess the plausibility of any of these arguments on anything other than a "well, it seems to make sense to me" basis.

    It does seem to me, quite offhand, that even granting the theoretical feasibility of such a thing, we'd probably not see anything as perky as the kind of drive used in Star Trek and other similar space operas (believe, I absolutely love them but still...). It does seem to me that there are limitations posed by inertia that we don't normally think of. Let's face it, a craft with the ability to travel at speeds greater than light is not going to be able to maneuver like a jet fighter.

    One of the things that has long struck me as a challenge to deep space travel is the fact that not only does the technology have to function at all, it has to function almost completely without failure of any kind in order to make it in any way practicable. There is also the question of how the amount of energy needed to effect the sort of things proposed can be generated, not just for an instant, but continuously over an extended period of time. As much as anyone does I long for the day when fusion technology will work as hoped; even so, would this result in a vehicle of reasonable size and capable of carrying the sort of payload that would make such travel at all sensible? This is not to say flat out that such things aren't possible, but there are enormous hurdles to be overcome.

    Finally, does even the sort of technology proposed above in any way make a round trip practicable? I've begun to suspect that if we were going to establish a culture that spans multiple planetary systems, we're first going to learn how to extend our lifespans in such as way that the culture we depart from still exists when we return home.

  •  One small problem... "exotic matter" doesn't exist (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bonsai66, walkshills, terrypinder

    That stuff they need to run their warp drive with is an imaginary material.

    Time-traveling unicorns are just as likely.

    •  Not that long ago (6+ / 0-)

      "Atoms" weren't believed to exist. Cell phones were science fiction. Dark matter was considered 'out there'. There's a whole host of things that were once considered 'exotic' or impossible, but are neither.

      We don't know yet if the stuff in this diary falls into the ultimately disproven basket, or the proven basket, but that's a large part of what science is about.

      The ramifications are mind boggling.

      Insert witty slogan here.

      by SniperCT on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:17:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a prediction in a loose sense of prediction. (0+ / 0-)

      A more appropriate explanation would be that it is mathematically possible according to the models, but it's never been observed.  Despite the fact that any such material should be rather easy to notice, that does kind of make finding any to use rather unlikely.

      Future physical models might entirely invalidate the existence of such a material, the same way that there is no material in the universe with a temperature of -1 K.  Our understanding of what temperature means entirely invalidates such a notion.

      But as of now, it 'exists' as a prediction based on putting crazy numbers into mathematical models that go far beyond the mathematical model's usual constraints.  Like putting negative or complex numbers in for real variables.

    •  Didn't they describe 'exotic matter' (0+ / 0-)

      as 'matter with negative mass'?

      So, in short, wouldn't that just be anti-matter, something that we KNOW exists, given a fancy new name?

      Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

      by LoreleiHI on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 05:14:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Except all that energy when dropping out of (0+ / 0-)

    warp is speculated to cause a shockwave that will destroy that solar system.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:33:52 PM PDT

  •  Huray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, G2geek, ColoTim

    We will figure it out eventually.
    Probably in 20 years we will be ready to send drones.

    To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

    by Bluehawk on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:37:20 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like (0+ / 0-)

    the Soliton Wave...

    It's about time I changed my signature.

    by Khun David on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:45:35 PM PDT

  •  Explain how this is going to bring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shuksan Tahoma

    liberty, security, and economic wellbeing to the 7 billion people who will never leave this planet, as well to all of their billions of offspring who will also never leave this planet, and I will begin to care.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:46:33 PM PDT

    •  perhaps you belong in the other, redder party. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, pico, glbTVET, terrypinder, ColoTim

      sorry, but disdain for science really pisses the hell out of me.

      •  too bad for you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shuksan Tahoma

        i don't have disdain for science.

        i have disdain for people imagining that somehow the satisfaction of their romantic fantasies of interstellar space travel will solve any of the very real problems faced by all the proles down here, most of whom will never travel 50 miles, nevermind 50 parsecs.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 09:58:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  not fair. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        First, this isn't science, it's science fiction.

        Second, choosing how and where to spend our limited resources is not anti-science.   Choosing to spend money on tangible solutions to real-world problems here on earth rather than pie-in-the-sky fantasies in outer space does not make one a red stater, it makes one a humanist, and a realist.

        •  I think you're the first person on dkos who (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shuksan Tahoma

          has ever agreed with me on this particular issue.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:01:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  nonsense. (6+ / 0-)

          Einstein, for one, believed that education and investigation--for the pure sake of acquiring knowledge was itself a noble cause--and should not be treated solely as a means to an end.

          It's not 'science fiction'--it's not time travel/interstellar travel that's the point here--it's moving these principles forward.

          I  mean---quantum computing has barely scratched the surface of, say, Shor's algorithm..we're a long way from quantum cryptography and other uses--we're still dealing with a few  particles here and there.  Maybe a real quantum computer will never be built--just like we may not get to Alpha Centauri within 10 generations.

          But with attitudes like yours, and UntimelyRipped's--which I acknowledge are MEANT to be noble--are in large part what's wrong with the way in which we view education today.  If there isn't some immediate benefit, what's the point?

          You're telling me that Newton wouldn't have seen Einstein, or Heisenberg or Planck as 'pie in the sky' nonsense?  Of course he would have.  Although I like to think Newton would, perhaps, have thought to take them a bit seriously--if only in the realm of imagination.

          •  If that was scathing, I feel unscathed. (0+ / 0-)

            Science is great and all that.  But it's far more important to have one's own house in order and functioning in harmony than it is to go building new houses in far off neighborhoods where your presence is neither needed nor welcomed.

            Until humanity shows the least bit of evidence that it is worthy to travel to new worlds, I say the universe is far better off with us stuck here in earth's gravitational well.  

            Of course, the earth itself remains stuck with us, to its great detriment.

            •  scathing doesn't have to be mean. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              anyway this response is ridiculous on many levels.  For one thing--it's not either-or.  Secondly--this needed/welcomed thing is utter nonsense.  You dismiss the entire spirit of exploration which got you where you are in the first place.  

              Your apparent wish for humanity is, honestly, awfully bleak and unimaginative.  At least the way you present it here.

              •  OK, let's talk about the spirit of exploration (0+ / 0-)

                The islands of Hawaii previously, due to their isolation, once held one of the greatest diversity of plant and animal species on the planet, home of a great number of endemics, found nowhere else on earth.

                Today, Hawaii is overrun with exotic species of weeds, rodents, and pigs; many of those endemic species are extinct.

                In short, the biological diversity of Hawaii is a small fraction of what is was, 'pre-exploration.'

                That is a great, absolutely massive, catastrophic loss.  And it is repeated across the planet.

                So this romanticized 'Spirit of Exploration' of which you speak can be damned to all hell, in my opinion, because it exists in a moral vacuum, seemingly without negative consequence.

                First, do no harm   - Socratic Oath
                When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. - John Muir
                •  that's my point. (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  pico, G2geek, terrypinder, ColoTim

                  with human advance can (not will) but can come destruction.

                  But that's easy say--when it's exploration (and all sorts of advances at the expense of others) that have gotten you where you are.

                  So what are you going to do?  Just outright reject the human race as evil, destructive and useless?  If you're going to go that far, might as well join the Church of Euthanasia (I knew one of those guys--they're sociopaths)

                  Or why not learn, explore, and imagine responsibly?  And maybe not everyone--maybe not even most--will be on board with that.  Well, that sucks--but it's the way the human race is.  We've actually done fairly well as a species, believe it or not--however this ends up.

                  •  idiots confuse "exploration" with "exploitation." (0+ / 0-)

                    And yes, they hate themselves and anything related: humans, or Americans, or whatever.  

                    This is also the "We are all (insert name of oppressed person here)!" crowd, whose otherwise-admirable urge toward empathy becomes warped into identification with victims and then with victimhood itself.

                    Bottom line: some people have no imagination, or have ended up hating themselves and repressing whatever imagination they have/had.  

                    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                    by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:30:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Bottom line: (0+ / 0-)

                      Some people are so immensely impressed with themselves that they cannot imagine somebody can be just as clever and imaginative as they are and yet not share their values.

                      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                      by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:49:25 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  And from disasters like Hawaii's colonization (0+ / 0-)

                  came rules that are being followed now to do whatever is possible not to bring foreign plants, insects and animals to many different places.  Ever driven into California and had to be checked for carrying fruits and vegetables?  Ever had to fill out a form entering the United States from abroad that you're not carrying fruits and vegetables (not the issue for endangered species, but for exotics)?  There are strict rules about what can be taken to Antarctica and there were are strict rules about what can be taken onboard interplanetary spacecraft like the Mars probes.

                  Sure there are ways that money overrules safety, like the issue of Asian carp being allowed into the Great Lakes because people insist (against evidence) that the barriers in place are 100% effective in keeping them out.

                  No system is perfect, but people are capable of learning and changing behavior to make things better.

            •  We can do both (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Paul Rogers

              Clean up our act and move on to becoming a space faring race.  

              "As goes OHIO so goes the nation." Ohio resident. Flyover country my ass, you get reminded every four years how important we are.

              by glbTVET on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:39:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  bevenro (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Learning in and of itself is holy. If in fact theres such a thing as holy.

            "As goes OHIO so goes the nation." Ohio resident. Flyover country my ass, you get reminded every four years how important we are.

            by glbTVET on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:37:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  first of all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the amount of money being spent on this isn't going to solve any terrestial issues.

          Second of all, there are about 1000 other things that we waste money on much more frivilous than things like this to direct your ire towards if you think not enough is being spent on "real-world problems."

          Third, I would suggest to you that the fact that an asteroid the size of the dinosaur-killer WILL INEVITABLY hit this planet again sometime in the future strongly suggests that figuring out a way to get off this planet and onto another habitable one is indeed a "real-world problem." As would be reseach into asteroid/comet defelection.

          Fourth, all sorts of things could come from thinking about fantastical things. A new cheap power source to replace oil and fossil fuels, a new type of exotic matter that might have some sort of ramifications. Other things we can't think of yet.

          So no, being against space reseach, even fantastical space research does not make you a humanist or a realist.

          •  It's not a real-world problem for me, since the (0+ / 0-)

            the number of people who get on the lifeboats is most likely to be a small fraction of the number of people who will find a way to survive on earth, even in the aftermath of an asteroid strike.

            This is the essential problem for me: That otherwise intelligent, somewhat-sensible, reasonably empathetic people take some sort of ludicrous solace in the notion that at least somebody will get out of here alive. I once had exactly such an individual literally say to me, "There's really no hope left for this planet, so the only hope is space travel." What hope, for whom? The problem isn't that humans are so damned important that we absolutely must go on and on and on until entropy winds the universe down, and we finally discover the vanity of our pursuit of pseudo-immortality; the problem is that this planet is where we live, and not one of my problems (nevermind the problems of people who are really suffering) will ever be solved by sending 24 carefully selected specimens out into space to carry on our tradition of breeding millions of serfs to serve thousands of aristocrats. Do you really think that your great-great grandchildren (who will almost certainly not be among the chosen) will, as they bury the last of your great-great-great grandchildren and grimly look out at the barren wasteland, think to themselves, "Well ... thank God there are humans somewhere out in space. Maybe."

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:04:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  species and long term (0+ / 0-)

              its about more than you or me.

              And its about more than the right now.

              If it's an asteroid like what took out the dinosaurs, not sure your presumption is correct.

              My point isn't that "the only hope" is space travel, if I believed that I would be arguing we put all of our eggs in that basket. But equally ludicrous to that position is that we not only don't put any eggs in that basket, but we burn the basket.

              The amount of money spent on these things won't make a hill of beans difference in the lives of the here and now. But the progress made today could make quite a difference to the future.

      •  Stephen Hawking would disagree (6+ / 0-)

        He firmly believes that the only way for humanity to survive long term (200-300 years down the line) is to explore space and colonize Earth-like planets...the only way to do that is to develop some kind of FTL travel

        •  I don't care a fig whether humanity survives (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shuksan Tahoma

          long-term, if it means a catastrophic collapse with a death-toll in the billions, while a handful of the chosen few sail off into the stars.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:15:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  whether or not 0.0000000001% of the money (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            on this planet gets invested in trying to figure out whether or not 'exotic material' is real or if it can be used to warp space time is not going to wreck the planet.

            You gotta calm down, man.

          •  so presumably you would have sat around the... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            defluxion10, terrypinder, bevenro, ColoTim

            .... campfire millions of years ago and voted for your tribe-mates to never leave the deserts of Africa.  

            OK, whatever!

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:32:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Non sequitur, much? (0+ / 0-)

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 05:46:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  not a non-sequitur: exactly the point. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ColoTim, terrypinder

                Africa was humanity's original ecological niche.

                If humans had decided to stay there rather than spreading out over the planet, all it would have taken was one major catastrophe there to wipe us out.  

                But because humans spread out across the globe, to new ecological niches on all the continents, we became more resilient: A catastrophe in Africa could not render us extinct.  A catastrophe in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, North, Central, or South America, could not wipe us out.

                This is the same principal that applies to "Mars and the stars."  Each place we can set up an independent civilization is another ecological niche for humanity and other Earth-originated life.

                Anyone who opposes spreading into space, is acting from the same narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness, as if they were living among the early humans in Africa and opposing the spread of humans from Africa to all over the Earth.

                In essence they are saying they would condemn humanity to occupying only one niche, to having all its eggs in one basket, and being a sitting duck for extinction should a disaster take out that niche.  

                And, to put it mildly, that's foreclosing the future of the species.  

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 11:44:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There are two problems here. (0+ / 0-)

                  The first is that your analogy is clownish.

                  The second is that, as I've made clear, I don't have any particular dedication to perpetuation of the species, rendering your clownish analogy moot. The universe got along without us for 10 billion years, and it will get along without us for many more than that following whatever moment the last one of us gets eaten by her cats. I'm much more interested in the quality of the actual lives lived by the billions of actual currently existing human beings here and now (and for that matter, in the near and far term), than I am in whether a handful of H. Sapiens Genome Carrier Units are sent out into space just to be sure that there will "always" be H. Sapiens Carrier Units somewhere in universe.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:39:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Does Hawking think planet earth is doomed? (0+ / 0-)

          Is that why he thinks humanity won't survive beyond 200-300 years?

          If so, what then is humanity's redeeming value, that it should be allowed to destroy its home planet and then hop off to 'colonize other 'Earth-like planets?'

          Sounds more like a cancer that needs to be destroyed.

          •  cancer can't learn from it's mistakes(nt) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Insert witty slogan here.

            by SniperCT on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:32:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  cancer makes no mistakes, it just metatasizes (0+ / 0-)

              Humanity, on the other hand, obviously learns from its mistakes, and would never be so stupid as to grow exponentially across its home planet destroying everything in its path and thereby destroying its host.

              That would be a silly comparison to make, to suggest a simile between cancer and humanity.

              •  You were the one who made the comparison (0+ / 0-)

                But eventually, a cancer might mutate to become symbiotic rather than parasitic, and a new life might grow.  Given the myriad ways mutations can happen, it's probably already happened multiple times.  I just can't think of any at the moment.

      •  me too. and also the "shit-kicker attitude." (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        People who never look up at the sky, but are always looking down and about six inches ahead, as if to kick the dog turds out of their way and say "oh that this should happen to me!"

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:26:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  um, we tell them it's the "Rapture Ship" sent by G (0+ / 0-)

      Gabriel...we put them on it....send it away...if it works..we never see them again...if it doesn't, well god will save them....then it's all Blue states and with all our kids getting an actual science education, we can solve global warming, pollution, no more sending our kids to die in religious wars

    •  I Didn't Know..... (6+ / 0-)

      ...That the benchmark for all scientific research was how beneficial it was for society.

      Anyway, even if none of this works and it's all a fantasy, furthering our understanding of the universe and how it works is beneficial to human knowledge and advancement, even when we figure out that something won't work the way we imagined.

      I don't think I'll ever meet a neanderthal or australopithecine, but that hasn't stopped us from digging up their bones to learn the evolutionary connections. Or is that something that we shouldn't waste time on either since it doesn't directly impact the "liberty, security, and economic wellbeing [of] 7 billion people"?

      •  If it is not beneficial to society, why exactly (0+ / 0-)

        should people who lack health care, education, security, and even simple physical comfort, subsidize it with their labor and their share of the planet's scarce resources?

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:18:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah..... (9+ / 0-)

          Because the 0.5% of the federal budget that NASA gets is taking food out of the mouths of hungry children.

          For half a cent on a dollar, the United States government puts men & women in space, robots on other planets, maps the universe, and attempts to gain a greater understanding about our reality & yet somehow people still find a way to bitch about it.

          •  I want science, but UntimelyRippd has a point. (0+ / 0-)

            I agree with funding science research.  Way more science funding than we do now, in all fields.  Cultures lead the world and gain dominance via science funding, not military spending.

            But it bears keeping in mind what the beneficial applications of science and technology actually are.  Science funding that actually helps people and makes the world a better place to live tends to be of the sort that solve real problems.

            Not that going to the moon wasn't cool.  It was.  It was amazing that people actually did it, as Neil says.  It builds enthusiasm for science, for the future, and for a more amazing set of accomplishments to be made by our descendants.

            This isn't quite a moon landing thing, though.

            I am impressed by the Internet, though.  Now people can harass others from the comfort of their own home.  You used to have to go outside for that.

            •  If there's one thing history has shown us, (5+ / 0-)

              it's that science pursued for its own sake has about as good a record - if not better - than science pursued 'for the good of humanity'.  

              There is no natural split between the two, and discouragement of the former in favor of the latter stunts the goals of both.

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:32:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We set priorities for ourselves. (0+ / 0-)

                I was referring to the practicality of this particular idea.

                Apparently there is a new type of cave spider discovered in my area.  Cool sciencey goodness!  I loves it!

                I didn't write a diary about it because it isn't going to be very relevant to the site's goals.  I also doubt it would generate quite the same optimistic enthusiasm from the community here the same way that this does.

                Both of these seem about equally useful.  But people only talk about one of these as if it is going to change the future of humanity.

                I love all science, but it bears keeping in mind what will actually help us progress as a species, and what won't.  In my opinion, this will probably have no impact on any election, or any of our political agendas for the foreseeable future.

                We still need to become better people.  The fact that Democrats adore science, and Republicans loathe it is not enough.

                •  Disagree: (5+ / 0-)
                  it bears keeping in mind what will actually help us progress as a species, and what won't.
                  It really, really doesn't.  For the site's narrowly specific goals, maybe, but not in the long run, and not in ways that matter.  

                  I also wish it were the case that Democrats adore science.  Anti-vaccers, AIDS-denialists, fetishizing the 'natural' as a value in itself, not to mention the very topics of GMO and nuclear power... These aren't coming from the Republican side of the aisle.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 12:28:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Science and skepticism could be better, yes. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Apart from the occasional Michelle Bachmann quirk.  But that one was probably a momentary fluke and is still a liberal anti-science lunacy.  She heard something crazy and neglected to vet it to figure out if it was genuine conservative crazy.

                    You forgot the 9/11 Truthers and alternative (to reality) medicine.

                    My interest and goals for the Democratic party is solely in how it could be more science oriented.  I agree with all of those things you mention.  I'd rather focus on any of those topics as well.

        •  excellent point. I say we fire all history (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rimjob, pico, G2geek, ColoTim, terrypinder

          teachers, too.  I mean--they're subsidized by our tax dollars--and do we really need history?  Nah.  I mean--why should I contribute to useless subjects when I could be planting a forest instead?

          Let's lose all the higher math teachers, too.  I mean--past 3rd grade they're not really necessary, right?  

          Seriously, U.R.--your arguments sound both ill-conceived and extremely bitter.

    •  If we have colonies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rimjob, G2geek, glbTVET

      the species will survive anything that happens to earth.

      It's a bit cold, but it's true.

      However, if the concept gets peoples' imaginations fired and gets them thirsting for more...that's worth it.

      The technology can also be used on earth. If we could figure out how to cheaply convert moon or mars rock to water and oxygen in order to sustain habitation, and then apply that to earth and the limited supply of water....that alone is worth the cost.

      Not to mention improving power sources to power these things, and using that knowledge on earth.

      Insert witty slogan here.

      by SniperCT on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:20:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's called passing the cosmic Darwin test. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        defluxion10, ColoTim

        Earth is an ecological niche in the galaxy: one of potentially many.

        Animals that stick to one niche are at maximum danger of extinction due to perturbations of their niche.  

        Animals that spread to other niches (e.g. other planets in other star systems) gain resilience and persist.

        The nincompoops around here who don't want humanity in space are in effect seeking to fail the cosmic Darwin test.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:38:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why, exactly, does it matter? (0+ / 0-)

          Are you worried about that big F going on humanity's permanent record?

          What a bunch of romantic poppycock. Everything you've said on the matter is just so much camouflage for your real motivation, which is this: The idea of zooming around in space gives you a stiffy. You imagine yourself as Kirk (or more likely Picard or Spock). All the rest is masquerade -- but the funny thing is, the masquerade itself is just an elaborate, shared vanity.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:12:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  first of all, 7 billion = twice the sustainable... (0+ / 0-)

      .... population limit of Earth, assuming a universal Western European standard of living.  

      So.  You were saying?

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:24:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah? So? What's your point? (0+ / 0-)

        Assuming that's true (personally, I'd guess that number is about 10 times the sustainable limit, but we may not have the same notion of what constitutes "sustainable"), then it's a problem of rather more significance than whether ubermensch and his uberfrau get to go a-larking through the cosmos.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:14:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why assume so many things? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Why assume that the resources of space cannot help bring liberty, security, and economic wellbeing to people?

      Why assume that the cost of spaceflight cannot be brought down so that millions or even billions cannot fly into space?

    •  One thing I've always expected from space (0+ / 0-)

      travel is an understanding of humanity's place within the galaxy.  Like the quote says (can't remember the source):

      If life on earth is the only life in the universe, we will change our opinion about it and become much more careful to preserve it.

      If life on earth is not the only life in the universe, but there are other planets and lives (and probably intelligent life), then people will have to change their minds about the meaning of God, Gods, and whatever other religions they follow.

      I believe this will dramatically change people's perceptions, no matter whether they're part of the 7 billion (and their descendants) or part of the very, very few that will make the first journeys to other stars.

      •  If we understood our place in the galaxy, we (0+ / 0-)

        wouldn't think that going into space was important -- we'd understand that it was a luxury in which our great-to-the-nth grandchildren might indulge if we have managed to lay down the foundations by which humanity somehow gets control of its darker impulses.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:17:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get this at all. (0+ / 0-)

    I don't get this...

    Instead of a Jupiter-mass ball of stuff we're not certain exists anywhere in the universe, we merely need a few hundred pounds of it?

    Is this what they're saying?  And if so, how is their experiment going to be done without the substance they need?

    •  If I Understand It Correctly..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, glbTVET, defluxion10

      The amount of energy needed to create the effect is directly dependent on the size of the bubble and how long you want to keep it stable.

      So "exotic matter" may be necessary for something like the Enterprise moving towards Vulcan, but an amount of energy within our current abilities may be enough for a tabletop experiment that tries to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million.

      •  I thought that it required exotic matter to build. (0+ / 0-)

        So they don't need to have exotic matter to actually do it in a practically useless (but interesting) experiment.  But to do it efficiently enough to do something useful with it will require lots of exotic matter?

        Well, if that's the case, we can always worry about improving efficiency and figuring out some practical applicability later on, but the headline reads as perhaps a tad overly optimistic, if not flatly naive.

        But people tend to prefer wild exaggeration and unbelievable discoveries to mundane, simple truths.

        •  There's no reason to not look (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rimjob, G2geek, bevenro

          If they believe there is the possibility they could discover something. They may end up learning things that have nothing to do with what they were looking for.

          We don't know. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be optimisitic.

          I'd rather think that something is possible, than think that it could never happen, especially when it's theoretically possible.

          Insert witty slogan here.

          by SniperCT on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:37:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  seems like there is a fairly good deal of research (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, terrypinder, defluxion10

      on material that would be considered 'exotic'.

      Can it be created?  we don't know.  The fact that some of the best minds in the field are working on it suggests that they haven't ruled it out.

      •  It matters whether or not the materials exist. (0+ / 0-)

        As far as I know, this requires that we find matter with negative mass.  The tinkering is something that's a part of science, but it's at times kind of a silly part.  The skepticism on this is more or less warranted, as a lot of theoretical physics is of this sort of thing, that is mathematically predicted, but has an existence status of a questionable nature.  Consider the following dialogue:

        Scientist 1: "Hey, look at that, if we put a negative mass into the force equation F = ma, then we get something strange and bizarre!  A form of matter that, when a force is applied to it, moves in the opposite direction of the applied force!"

        Scientist 2: "That's neat, I wonder if there's anything like negative mass out there..."

        Scientist 1: "Well, nevermind that, what could we do with it if we had any?"

        Later on, media outlets look at the theoretical speculations of scientist 1 and conclude that someone has discovered a way to do something outlandish, like build a wormhole.

        All that's really been done is a theoretical application of an imaginary material has been discovered.

        Then the process begins again:

        Scientist 1: "Hey, look!  If we have an imaginary mass in this relativity equation, then we get a type of matter that is always travelling faster than light!"

        Imaginary mass indeed.

        •  you know what else is silly? Relativity. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Paul Rogers

          You know what's even sillier--to the point of utter and complete nonsense?

          Quantum mechanics.

          And--speaking of that--you know what takes the cake in terms of complete and total hogwash??

          Quantum entanglement.  Seriously--that one is so out-there it makes the 'pink unicorn' thing seem as likely as my next-door neighbor.

          •  Science is often silly, but it is real too. (0+ / 0-)

            All of those things have evidence in their favor.  If they hadn't, they would've been dropped by experimental scientists in an instant.

            The mathematical models in physics can be broken, to predict phenomena that probably have no bearing on reality.  Lots of theoretical predictions are like that.  In this case, the model didn't hold beyond certain tolerances.

            Although predictions are an important part of science, it is worthwhile to remember what actually has evidence.

  •  As much as I enjoy science diaries... (0+ / 0-)

    this doesn't exactly qualify.

    It's a Sci Fi diary.

    Nothing wrong with that, but you've also got the "sciencey" part a little wrong.

    The idea of only needing 500 kilograms of "exotic matter" is pretty much equivalent to "only" needing" a team of 5,000 flying unicorns.

    And what is "exotic matter?"  Is it anti-matter?  Strange matter?  

    Sorry to be a buzz kill, but the Alcubierre drive has been around for a very long time, and there is one problem that always arises:  

    How do you control the drive when you can't communicate with it due to time dilation spatial effects?

    Nothing worth noting at the moment.

    by Bonsai66 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:10:19 PM PDT

    •  I Didn't Sugar Coat It..... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, glbTVET, walkshills, terrypinder

      I made it explicitly clear what exotic matter was and stated in the diary that there are "significant hurdles to overcome, even if the math is right."

      There's a reason the diary title uses the word "may" when paraphrasing Dr. White.

      •  And yet... (0+ / 0-)

        acquiring the "exotic matter" isn't even the main problem, however you want to define what "exotic matter" is.

        You can't actually control the drive.  There's this problem with the Theory of General Relativity, but I guess that's just another "hurdle" to overcome while trying to figure out how to acquire 1,110 lbs of exotic matter, whatever the heck that may turn out to be.

        Alas, the Standard Model is waiting.

        I'm guessing that the concept of the Alcubierre drive is new to you, thus the diary.

        Nothing worth noting at the moment.

        by Bonsai66 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 10:23:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It just blows my mind (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, glbTVET

    that there are dudes and duddettes in this world thinking about shit like this. "But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977." I mean, even after a couple of bowls I don't get that far out.

    life is just a temporary discontinuity  in the second law of thermodynamics

  •  Kardashev Scale (0+ / 0-)

    "As goes OHIO so goes the nation." Ohio resident. Flyover country my ass, you get reminded every four years how important we are.

    by glbTVET on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 11:43:12 PM PDT

  •  So at 10X in 500 years this could be the (0+ / 0-)

    Human Sphere of Influence and with "Entanglement Communication" that is instantaneous all this area would be connected without a Time-lag.The one/ones who made this site did a lot work on it.Oh and by zooming in it shows how many Stars is within 2&1/2 years and a little over 1&1/4 year of Travel.

  •  there's still that causality problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    although i guess the "bubble" would be its own reference frame, yes?

    I'm guessing here. Relativity makes my braincase ache.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 04:49:02 AM PDT

  •  Hadn't seen this when I published on this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sorry to have stolen thunder.  Great diary though - more informative than mine.

    Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

    by Troubadour on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:55:17 AM PDT

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