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Star Trek-style "warp" drive allowing faster-than-light (FTL) travel was shown to be theoretically possible in 1994, but the energy requirements were enormous: The entire mass-energy of a planet the size of Jupiter was required to power the drive, relegating the concept into the most distant future scenarios - timescales on the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of years, depending on one's level of optimism.  But newly refined research by NASA tweaking the parameters of the theory finds that it's possible with a mass-energy no greater than a few hundred to a few thousand kilograms: A factor of 2.6 septillion (2.6 x 1024) reduction in energy requirements.  And this is merely the second generation of the theory, so the possibilities for future improvements in theoretical practicality seem vast.

Real warp drive theory is called the Alcubierre drive after its theoretical pioneer, Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre.  It functions by bending space around a spacecraft such that it creates a "bubble," and the bubble moves forward by expanding in front and contracting behind while the mass inside is stationary relative to space within the bubble - i.e., there is no violation of general relativity.  As a result, the troublesome aspects of fast relativistic travel such as time dilation - i.e., the faster you go, the slower your time runs relative to the rest of the universe - would not apply.  There would also be no g-forces from acceleration of the bubble, so as far as a ship inside is concerned, no intertia is involved.  A ship capable of warp drive would theoretically be shaped like a ring surrounding an oblong payload/habitat system:

Alcubierre Drive

The colorful distortions in the above illustration may not have anything to do with how things would really look from inside a warp bubble - it may not look like anything, or it may just be a slight dicoloration and/or distortion of otherwise normal-looking star fields, although probably more pronounced ahead and behind than to the sides.  Anyway, the new version of warp theory is able to achieve these massive energy savings by modeling a differently-shaped bubble: Instead of a sphere, the bubble is a donut - and apparently this requires a miniscule fraction of the energy.  More advanced bubble shapes in future models may reduce the requirement further, although I doubt by similarly impressive margins.

Just as in Star Trek, the maximum theoretical speed using an Alcubierre drive is 10 times the speed of light - i.e., Warp 10 or 10c [Woops - apparently the meaning of Warp in Star Trek is not a direct multiple of lightspeed, so this analogy is invalid].  This is because the thickness of the bubble at 10c approaches the theoretical minimum size of cosmic structure, the Planck length.  Ten times the speed of light is nothing to sneeze it, and it would make interstellar travel to the nearest stars feasible, but it's not as fast as it sounds: It would still take 5 months to reach Alpha Centauri, over a year to reach Epsilon Eridani, and 12,000 years to cross the Milky Way galaxy.  And if we do achieve warp drive, it's more likely to be most practical at factors lower than 10c - the lower, the more likely.

In fact, the most probable and earliest application of an Alcubierre drive would be sub-light travel within the solar system.  The challenges would still be tremendous compared to any other technology under development, but it would likely be vastly easier to achieve 0.1c or lower and yet still completely open the solar system to humanity.  At 0.01c - a hundredth of lightspeed - it would take a day or two to reach Mars (as opposed to 9 months with current rockets, and 5 weeks with VASIMR), and a couple of months to reach Neptune, provided that acceleration and deceleration of the bubble could occur rapidly.  

Now, we shouldn't overestimate how close this technology is, because despite the enormity of the theoretical advance, all that this means is that it would not violate the laws of physics to achieve FTL travel with a few thousand kilograms of mass-energy.  The actual engineering - the specific how, rather than if - is by far the hardest part.  After all, we have a pretty solid foundation of pursuing fusion reactor engineering, but humanity has not yet gotten there in generations of effort.  I think we will eventually succeed, but exactly when is an open question.  Nonetheless, this is a massive injection of optimism: I can imagine this being late 22nd century technology rather than 22,000th century technology.  But even if it took a thousand years, I would count the advance huge.

For the moment, essentially all of the practicalities are wide-open questions: We don't know how to create the warp bubble without destroying its contents, how to bring it up to desired speed without destroying its contents, how to slow it down again without destroying its contents, and then how to "pop" it so the ship inside can reenter normal space without destroying said ship.  And even if/when these questions are answered for sub-light speeds, that doesn't mean we would have the answers for FTL speeds, so this is very much an entire array of new frontiers to explore.  One thing is always guaranteed: It is a lot more complicated than we imagine.  But within that fact lays another - that the possibilities are more numerous and wondrous than we can imagine.  

But here's the exciting part: It isn't just numbers on a whiteboard or in a computer model - practical experiments are being planned by the scientists involved in the new research to see if warp bubbles can be created on a microscopic level using lasers.  The fact that such experiments can even be designed, let alone whether or not they succeed, is a giant leap for mankind.  Progress in this field has just been one of the promising results to gain widespread attention via DARPA's 100 Year Starship initiative, which continues the organization's tradition of forward-thinking endeavors.  

I should note, however, that FTL travel is not necessary for humanity to colonize other star systems - it would just take a lot longer, and involve a lot of intermediate steps with each new system before another one could be colonized from it.  But FTL means the difference between colonizing the nearest habitable systems over 10,000 years vs. doing so over the next 500, and also drastically reduces the timline for conquest of our own solar system.  Rather than taking 2,000 years to build flourishing civilizations in every suitable niche our solar system has to offer, it could happen over a couple of centuries like European settlement of the New World.  So we probably won't be seeing warp drive ships in this century, but the first dim glow of a Star Trek dawn has peeked over the horizon.  Even a massively disappointing outcome - e.g., if it's only practical for sub-light speeds - would make future history a lot more interesting, and develop a lot more quickly than otherwise.

Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:07 PM PT: Apparently I was incorrect about the meaning of warp in Star Trek - a warp factor does not refer to the number of times the speed of light, but to orders of magnitude or greater.  


8:25 AM PT: A number of commenters have expressed skepticism about the viability of the theory to become technology.  I don't see any basis to their objections, but I'm not an expert.  The people responsible for the research discussed here are, however, so anyone who has the attitude that this is just "science fiction" or the like should really take it up with Dr. Harold White of NASA Johnson Space Center.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech, Science Matters, and Astro Kos.

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  •  Tip Jar (218+ / 0-)
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    Bob Love, side pocket, the1sage, sparkysgal, 2thanks, pimutant, ontheleftcoast, palantir, Quantumlogic, luckydog, Translator, Mets102, here4tehbeer, Bob Novak Douchebag of Liberty, Transmission, grollen, khloemi, antooo, basquebob, cskendrick, PrahaPartizan, kalmoth, Rimjob, vahana, mookins, marleycat, SniperCT, bakeneko, gloriana, Bionic, nickrud, Farugia, Pescadero Bill, twigg, jadt65, praying manatheist, CA ridebalanced, exterris, Simplify, Hatrax, Mother Mags, Tod, Trix, defluxion10, petulans, Youffraita, Jeffersonian Democrat, flitedocnm, Yogurt721, G2geek, OLinda, cyberpuggy, elliott, AoT, anyname, sfbob, antirove, Tinfoil Hat, blueoregon, Larsstephens, mofembot, radarlady, bythesea, Michael Chadwick, Nulwee, mph2005, riverlover, yaque, BasharH, Habitat Vic, Rumarhazzit, JoanMar, elziax, laurak, kestrel9000, Dood Abides, not4morewars, electric meatball, Carol in San Antonio, Craig S, Athenian, BigOkie, pat bunny, JTinDC, real world chick, Stwriley, Horace Boothroyd III, gizmo59, jcrit, penguins4peace, HeartlandLiberal, sodalis, Yellow Canary, MBNYC, kamarvt, on board 47, pioneer111, buckstop, Dauphin, p gorden lippy, aseth, raster44, angelajean, GeorgeXVIII, haremoor, pico3, PeterHug, Cinnamon, Witgren, Smoh, kerflooey, Xapulin, D in Northern Virginia, zukesgirl64, RumsfeldResign, Odysseus, Rhysling, Nebraskablue, JML9999, reddbierd, redlum jak, hyperstation, Wino, Leftcandid, Wolf Of Aquarius, Crashing Vor, Terrapin, Deep Texan, Nag, glitterscale, Aquarius40, dmhlt 66, jeff in nyc, jem6x, Its any one guess, blue aardvark, peterj911, spooks51, filkertom, weck, kevin k, Joieau, Timaeus, jfromga, Aunt Pat, evander, Eddie L, Cronesense, PBen, MKinTN, Mannie, splintersawry, cyncynical, pixxer, Empower Ink, LucyMO, enhydra lutris, poliwrangler, cybersaur, sealsinger, ranger995, deviant24x, Doug Goodenough, Tool, mconvente, sethtriggs, Sun Tzu, FarWestGirl, science nerd, ChemBob, Great Cthulhu, Loudoun County Dem, MooseHB, kathny, Overseas, SherriG, Otis29, buddabelly, 2020adam, doingbusinessas, greenchiledem, OllieGarkey, DontTaseMeBro, geordie, glbTVET, thomask, exiledfromTN, raincrow, johanus, exNYinTX, trumpeter, Eric0125, Nice Ogre, legendmn, Catskill Julie, JDWolverton, Unit Zero, Geenius at Wrok, clinging to hope, terabytes, prfb, Laughing Vergil, SadieSue, DarkLadyNyara, Born in NOLA, davehouck, mythatsme, rapala, belinda ridgewood, rioduran, JamieG from Md, ColoTim, SherwoodB, 59stevenm, bill warnick, rb608, Tennessee Dave, Pete Cortez

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

    by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:53:20 PM PDT

  •  Na. I think we should just keep (5+ / 0-)

    killing people instead.

  •  once we have ftl travel (7+ / 0-)

    we can have ftl couriers!

    "a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes a form of madness" -Debord

    by grollen on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:21:20 PM PDT

  •  Ion propulsion will manage low % cee this century (10+ / 0-)

    And it could well turn out that relativistic travel - even using exact same propulsion methods - might yet turn out more practical in terms of payload delivery AND relativistic effects.

    Awesome news. You deliver yet again.

    •  I must once again point out those pesky (15+ / 0-)

      little protons, left alone, penetrating the craft and the bodies of the crew.  It would be like billions of little rocks rending flesh apart, except in this case they would cause extreme ionization injury, and the DNA would be destroyed fast.

      Only by deflecting them can fast, and I am not even talking about warp speed, but 10% light speed (at most) be practical.  Those little bits of matter turn into bullets!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:36:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And shieldng is of course a sine qua non (8+ / 0-)

        Plasma frames show promise as selective radiation and kinetic energy deflectors.

      •  An object inside a warp bubble (6+ / 0-)

        has no velocity relative to an object outside of it - it's only the bubble itself that has velocity.  I don't think anyone knows yet what would happen to something trying to cross from external space into a bubble, but if we assume that it crosses intact, it might just be swept up without any acceleration being involved and remain at rest relative to what is already inside.  Of course, that presents its own problems - you would build up a lot of energy inside if everything that encountered it got trapped in it even at little or no velocity.  As far as I know, the answers aren't known yet.

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

        by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:59:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I just thought of a new (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, bythesea, raster44

        Little Golden Book to write for The Little Girl:

        Those Pesky Little Protons, sort of like The Pokey Little Puppy.  What do you think?  I trust that none will steal the idea.  Oh, and I have given that little girl these Little Golden Books:

        The Color Kittens (my favorite from my childhood), The Pokey Little Puppy, and Butterfly Kisses.  I really love both her and her mum, with all of my being.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:32:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  even 0.1C (10% lightspeed) is sufficient. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, raster44, Odysseus

        This lets us colonize nearby star systems with a transport time of a few hundred to a few thousand years one-way.  

        It would call for the use of colony ships, each one containing enough humans and other Earth-originated life, to reproduce over that time span without inbreeding.  

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

        by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:09:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Transit time would only be in decades (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, bythesea, raster44

          up to somewhat over a century.  But if you can do sub-luminal warp drive, there's no reason not to go 0.2, 0.5, 0.9c. and get there even faster.  I doubt shielding is as impractical as being portrayed.

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:05:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sure, once you have warp drive.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, raster44, Odysseus

            ... there's no reason not to use it for all it's worth.  0.9c would be a wonderful thing, and not that much different from 1.0 at the distances we're talking about.  

            But there may be other routes to 0.1c, or there may be something else entirely.  And if we can demonstrate a way to handle the other issues of a many-generational voyage, we're in even better shape for a decades-long voyage.  

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

            by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 03:03:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  but would you have that if you are moving space (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        and not the ship?

        If this were feasible, and you are just moving space, then not only wouldn't the ship move, but things wouldn't move against the ship.

        In fact, wouldn't things like cosmic rays and other radiation actually be blocked by this effect?

        The only real problem with this theory is the requirement for exotic matter, which is like saying the only real problem with living forever is dying, but if we could somehow crack that particular nut...

        •  Virtual particles Hawking radiation would fry you (0+ / 0-)

          Virtual particles would become real at the spacewarp's boundary.  These particles sometimes known as Hawking radiation would have the energy of cosmic rays. You would be cooked by heat or irradiated to death inside of the bubble.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:44:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  but would those particles be moving (0+ / 0-)

            any faster than say out of a black hole? You are moving space but would those virtual particles also be moving superluminally or even faster than they would out of say a black hole?

            I don't think you'd necessarily be cooked/irradiated by virtual particles outside of a black hole (although one might not want to be near a black hole for various other reasons).

      •  It would be the Hawking radiation (0+ / 0-)

        according to the wiki on the Alcubierre drive:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        !! Four more years !!

        by raincrow on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:42:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hopefully we will see 0.001c travel (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, G2geek, raster44

      in the next few decades.  The 200 kW VASIMR engine under development is currently designed for lobbing unmanned probes at 0.00017c.

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

      by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:49:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, but can we use it to outrun climate change? (8+ / 0-)

      Vote Tea Party Taliban! Bring the Burqa to America.

      by Pescadero Bill on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:55:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. That's what living in caves is for. (7+ / 0-)

        There is nothing that can make other worlds into havens that won't make harsher conditions on Earth more 'normal'.

        •  As as Troubs himself says often (and others) (10+ / 0-)

          The entire idea of having people live on other worlds is so they are not all in one foxhole when the next dinosaur-killer asteroid or comet or super-flare shows up.

          •  And that's only half the attraction. (10+ / 0-)

            The other half is that having more people working on more problems across more diverse environments and finding more new possibilities yields a lot more technological gestalt to solve any given set of issues.  If all you have is one village, the biggest problems of that village may be insurmountable - but if you have a whole world, the biggest problems any one village in it can possibly have are manageable.  And if you have many worlds, the biggest problems of that one world become manageable.

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

            by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:23:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This diary is entertaining escapism (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              terrypinder, Eric K

              You cherry picked the information on Wikipedia.

              Theoretical and experimental physics deserve funding but the premise that people could travel in a warp bubble is wholly inconsistent with the Wikipedia article and scientific reports. From the Wikipedia article you cherry picked:

              Survivability inside the bubble

              A paper by José Natário published in 2002 argued that it would be impossible for the ship to send signals to the front of the bubble, meaning that crew members could not control, steer or stop the ship.[14]

              A more recent paper by Carlos Barceló, Stefano Finazzi, and Stefano Liberati makes use of quantum theory to argue that the Alcubierre Drive at FTL velocities is impossible; mostly due to extremely high temperatures caused by Hawking radiation destroying anything inside the bubble at superluminal velocities and leading to instability of the bubble itself. These problems do not arise if the bubble velocity is kept subluminal, but it is still necessary to provide exotic matter for the drive to work.[15]

              look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

              by FishOutofWater on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:56:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Apparently the people involved in the new work (0+ / 0-)

                disagree with some of the conclusions of these other authors, and have made massive progress in reducing the theoretical energy requirement for an Alcubierre drive.  Subsequent experimental results will shed light on the matter.

                Focusing on a timeline longer than the next five seconds is not "escapism."  Frankly, being ADD and wallowing in media frivolities that way we often do around here is escapism.

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

                by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:46:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Off-site backups to pass the cosmic Darwin Test. (7+ / 0-)

            Natural selection operates in the cosmos at-large.

            A species that sticks to one planet (one ecological niche) has a lower probability of surviving & persisting over any given long span of time, compared to a species that spreads out to multiple planets (multiple niches).  

            Once we're occupying two or three star systems, our future is basically assured until the last star in our galaxy can't support life.  And once we start spreading freely throughout our galaxy, it's also possible that we would have developed the means to go to the adjacent galaxies.  

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

            by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:21:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, I'd rather see the space tech used (7+ / 0-)

            to SOLVE the problem of a dino-killer asteroid rather than used to merely allow a small percentage of humanity to escape it.  If you're talking about space travel advanced enough to allow colony populations on other worlds, it's probably also good enough to deflect the dino-killer aside.  Even today we know how we could do it in principle - the only challenge being that the time and expense it takes to get a special mission designed and sent doesn't give us enough lead time to accomplish it after it becomes certain the dino-killer is really going to hit.  By the time the calculations of its path start hitting the level of precision where it's no longer "it has a 1/1,000 chance to hit us" and instead becomes "oh, god it's definitely going to hit us, please world governments start funding this NOW and stop arguing about it", our current tech would take way too long to accomplish the mission.  

            BUT, if you imagine a society where we're making regular trips up out of earth's gravity well and trucking cargo back and forth to colonies, then deflecting the dino killer becomes more plausible because you can use the infrastructure that already exists to accomplish it.

        •  that's what the Male Pill is for. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raster44, Pescadero Bill, atana

          Reduce the birth rate to a negative number ASAP and we may be able to beat the worst of it.  

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

          by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:14:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If someone is living in a cavern (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, Troubadour, bythesea, raster44

        on ceres, what the hell does global warming have to do with them?

        /channelling Robert Heinlein, virtually.

        •  They can sell the platinum group metals (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Translator, ozsea1, raster44, Odysseus

          from harvested asteroids to produce photovoltaic surface area in gargantuan quantities at trivial prices.

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

          by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:29:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  if someone is living in The Hamptons... (6+ / 0-)

          ... what do starving children in Africa have to do with them?

          You see where that gets us, right?

          Cooperation across a planetary scale once seemed like a fantasy.  Now those who refuse to consider humanity on the other side of the globe are rightly detested for their callousness.

          North America is an ecological niche.  Africa is an ecological niche.

          Earth is an ecological niche.  Ceres is an ecological niche.

          Even at distances of many light years: a scientific discovery on one world, broadcast to all worlds, may help one of them overcome an existential threat at some point.  

          Communications bridges the niches, and cooperation strengthens the whole.  
          Whether across the span of a globe, or across the span of interstellar space.  

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

          by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:00:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, we must. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, bythesea, Troubadour, raster44

        The only way that humans can survive is to find at least one other world, in another solar system, to hedge our genetic bets.  Are we worthy?  Sure we are, and I want to take The Woman, or at least our decedents, there.  Oh, I just said that I want to have a child with her, but I say that with the utmost respect to her.  I love her, very, very much and I would love to look back on our offspring's offsprings setting towards the stars.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:08:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We won't actually need another solar system (5+ / 0-)

          for billions of years, but of course it will be great to have the additional numbers and diversity.  Mars is more than adequate to take care of the eggs-in-one-basket problem.  But as Elon Musk is fond of saying, solving problems isn't enough - there has to be a positive reason to get out of bed in the morning, and an eternal human future of surprises, growth, exploration, diversity, and discovery is that reason.

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

          by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:32:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We need one now! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, bythesea, raster44

            I am not afraid of our sun going red giant, she is a nice and well behaved star.  Yes, I said she.  She is our mum, nurturing us from time immemorial.

            I worry about other things, and Mars is not the answer.  It is too difficult, and only extreme terraforming, beyond our technology at present, could make it habitable.  

            Let us find something in a new solar system, an planet ready for my love's grandchildren!

            Can you tell that the scientist in me is tempered by the romantic in me?

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

            by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:41:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Mars solves part of it. And then... (7+ / 0-)

            A self-sufficient civilization on Mars is off-site backup against an event that affects Earth, so that's the first step.

            But the second step is off-site backup against an event that affects the Sun.  We have about a billion years before the Sun's predicted natural increase in heat output renders Earth unfit for life as we know it.  etween now and then, unpredictable events may also occur to the Sun.

            So ultimately we need to find new star systems with viable planets.  

            And/or we need to position natural or artificial planets in space between stars, and feed them with energy captured by Dyson rings around the nearest stars plural, and delivered via microwave laser to satellites that convert it to a terrestrially useful form.  This method provides safety from stellar events, and multiple stars for multiple backup of the energy supply.  In the event one star becomes un-viable, another could be brought online by building a dyson ring around it.  

            Ultimately there could be networks of planets inhabiting interstellar space and provided with energy in this manner.

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

            by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:47:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Transmission losses at interstellar distnces (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour, raster44, G2geek

              might argue for a more local source, such as fusion. Don't forget the Von Nuemann Universal constructor.

              Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

              by Old Lefty on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 03:06:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the problem with self-replicators, whether... (0+ / 0-)

                .... they are artificial devices or natural organisms, is that they don't have a built-in "stop" function: left to themselves, they reproduce beyond the limits of available ecosystems and then crash.  Overpopulation & collapse.  Even humans, having brains that are the most complex objects in the known universe, are subject to this problem, as we presently see (7 billion and counting).

                Anything involving self-replicating constructors has to be designed with multiple safeguards against that, or they will eventually become an existential threat to natural organisms including humans and whatever humans evolve into.  

                ---

                Fusion is a given, but the question is fuel over billions of years.  For that, stars can't be beat.  

                I don't know about transmission losses over interstellar distances.  But if one were to capture a significant quantity of a star's output, that would compensate for transmission inefficiency.  

                Though, it would create transmission paths that would be fatal to objects crossing them, such as space ships, and including the space ships of other civilizations that were not aware of the locations of the transmission paths.  This will eventually become an issue: do we or post-we have the right to put hazards of that type into interstellar space?  

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

                by G2geek on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 03:00:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Self replicators with (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek

                  a built in kill switch and a limit function are entirely possible. I've been working on one for about twelve years now. Sounds crazy I know, but there ya go. I'll be launching the KiskStarter after Barak's re-inaugurtion here on DKos.

                  Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

                  by Old Lefty on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 01:52:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  looking forward to it. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Old Lefty

                    Particularly the way you implemented the kill switch.

                    What I think would be even safer is a "permission required to proceed" switch, so replication requires permission using some kind of cryptographic key method from human supervisors, that can't be circumvented by "motivated" replicators.

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

                    by G2geek on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 06:53:41 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Didn't Dyson invent the sphere, and Larry Niven (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour, G2geek

              come up with the idea for a ring as a mid-step? Or was that a Dyson idea too?

              (romney)/RYAN 2012 - Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

              by Fordmandalay on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:51:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  one or the other or both;-) (0+ / 0-)

                Dyson >> sphere.

                Niven >> Ringworld.

                But we both know what we're talking about there.  

                The difference I'm going for is:

                Sphere-worlds and ring-worlds only increase the number of eggs in one basket (population dependent upon a single star).  

                Using rings around stars to capture energy to transmit to a planet in interstellar space, has the advantage of positioning the planet (or cluster of planets, why not?) at a safe distance from the stars that are its/their energy sources, and provides those planets with multiple and redundant energy sources.

                This plan also avoids entirely the issue of having to shift entire populations off threatened planets in a conventional star system: the populations of these clustered planets powered by distant stars, could stay put indefinitely.  There would of course be outward migration, but the original home planets in that system would remain viable indefinitely.  

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

                by G2geek on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 03:06:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  The question was asked a long time ago. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, raster44, cybersaur

          "Is the surface of a planet the best place for an expanding industrial civilization?"

          Some form of offworld expansion will be desirable(likely necessary) in the near future.  If it happened in my lifetime, I wouldn't mind living offworld.

          You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

          by Johnny Q on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:50:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Asteroid belts are the best places (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raster44

            for an expanding industrial civilization - especially if they're close enough for solar power to be nonnegligible but far enough to have lots of ice.

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

            by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:31:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I think Tim Leary had it right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, raster44

          when he said that the most important things to focus on were space migration, intelligence increase and life extension.  Further, that these fields were interconnected and one should only be pursued in connection with the others.

          You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

          by Johnny Q on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:55:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why would we need to? (6+ / 0-)

        Climate change is a result of simple arithmetic: The rate of heat released into the terrestrial atmosphere minus the rate of heat radiated by the atmosphere into space.  Changing the balance of this equation would be a very large-scale undertaking, but hardly difficult to envision in its gross particulars - increase reflective surface area until energy expulsion balances heat trapping.  That's not even a technological problem - mirrors and white sand aren't science fiction - but an economic and policy one.

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

        by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:28:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Changing the albedo (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, bythesea, raster44

          is much more changing than you just indicated.  We need to do so, but some of the harebrained schemes that I have read might be more harmful than helpful.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:43:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  or renewables plus fission and eventually fusion. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, raster44

          We already have the tech we need to solve the climate crisis.

          Thorium fission and renewables today, add fusion to the mix tomorrow.  

          All it takes is the will.  

          And we could have done it for a fraction of what we spent on Iraq.

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

          by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:02:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Just a couple of things. (9+ / 0-)

    In no way was the maximum warp speed in Star Trek only ten times the speed of light.  Depending on the formula that you like, it might have been as much as 729 times the speed of light, but this is only fiction.  I must, however, point out your inaccuracy in reporting the figure in the old series.

    I also take a bit of difference with you about it not being necessary for faster than light travel to be necessary for colonization.  Out of necessity, if a craft were to travel even at 10% of c, the pokey and isolated hydrogen atoms would become lethal missiles, penetrating the craft numerous times, and likely causing lethal wounds in the passengers and pilots.

    Only something like the main deflector from the Enterprise could prevent that, and this is still quite science fiction.  Spooky action at a distance could not divert the protons, regardless of how fast (or slowly) the craft were moving, since signals (and deflections) can only travel at c.

    That is why the whole idea of subspace communications was dreamt up by Roddenberry:  a way to send a signal (or a deflection beam) faster than light.  I am an optimist, and think that we will find a way, using physics that we yet do not understand to do it, but at present it is easier to go to warp than to protect the crew from what are sort of essentially stationary protons (only going around 0.05% c) into lethal cosmic rays.

    Please ponder and respond!

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:30:29 PM PDT

    •  The most immediate solution (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, G2geek, Old Lefty, raster44

      would just be a whole hell of a lot of massive shielding.  Protection against the additional particle flux caused by high sub-c speeds only has to cover the cross-section of the spacecraft, so that would be a shaft of whatever material is found most advantageous along the axis of travel.  You would only need a more extensive, dish-like shield to protect against the radiant energy generated by the particle collisions, and that part of the shield doesn't have to be thick.  

      Disclaimer: I'm talking out of my ass on the basis of vague understanding of the principles involved, and defer to anyone who knows what they're talking about.

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

      by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:05:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The bottom line is simple. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Old Lefty, FishOutofWater

        You have to move those protons away faster than you find them, or they are lethal bullets, ripping through and ionizing your body.  I have not a clue how to do that at even close to relativistic velocities, but the concept is the same, regardless of how fast you go, but the faster the wortster, to coin a poor word.  At even 10% c, they would penetrate even the most elaborate shielding, and imagine what they would do at 50 times the speed of light!

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:20:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've been reading about this warp drive too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          To think of it in conventional ways as being a fraction of light speed or even faster than light speed is a conceptual mistake. The warp drive would not operate that way. It theoretically works by bending space-time itself! You aren't "moving" from point A to point B. You would warp the very fabric of space-time to bring point B closer to point A. That being the case, you really don't have to worry about running into high velocity objects because they'd be outside of the local space-time bubble. The local velocity of the warp drive (and everything else in the bubble) would be zero. This warp drive is nothing like a conventional rocket engine that pushes a craft through space. It bends space-time itself!

          --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

          by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:34:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  as I understand it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, raster44

      the science is split as to whether such a warp wave will attract or deflect.

      Actual testing could reveal that a warp bubble like a wave of water more pushes then pulls but that's what experimentation is for

      cheers

    •  i'm inclined to believe... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, Old Lefty, raster44, Odysseus

      .... that there are ways to overcome the signaling problem with nonlocality, and produce instantaneous communication at any distance.  This may require setting up both ends over a long period of time and using sub-c communication to establish the link, but once it's working, it keeps working.  

      Now envision a relay point at the primary inhabited planet in each of a number of star systems.  

      Yeee-hawwww!

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

      by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:06:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Warp 10 (9+ / 0-)

    in the original Star Trek series was 10^3c or 1000 x c.  

    For modern Trek (TNG and beyond) the warp speed designation was recalibrated, so that Warp 10 was instanteous (or infinite) velocity.  

    It's about time I changed my signature.

    by Khun David on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:31:50 PM PDT

  •  Reposted to Science Matters... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Troubadour, G2geek, raster44

    as an example of edgy science done just right.

  •  Cool (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Troubadour, G2geek, raster44

    I never understood growing up why people said nothing could go faster than the speed of light. I don't know the complicated physics, but it seemed like such a dubious, arbitrary idea. Why does light think it's so special, I thought. It's just the stuff that allows us to see and it's not like it was "designed" for that purpose - it didn't seem so fundamental to me as to control the limits of speed.

    •  Let me make a stab at it. (7+ / 0-)

      It turns out that the maths in Einstein's equations make things getting divided by zero at c, or when things attain that velocity.  It might seem like just math bull, but all particle accelerators have to take that into account or everything goes out of sync.

      Massive particles DO gain mass as their velocity increases, and ask the folks at CERN if that does not have to be dealt with, precisely.  But here is where it gets even more odd.

      Not only do massive particles gain mass as velocity increases, they lose physical dimensions.  They get sort of pushed into two dimensions, losing the x direction as velocity increases, going to zero x dimension as velocity increases, until the paradox appears.

      That paradox is that a particle, nominally spherical and with a finite mass, becomes infinitely without volume (remember, as any particle becomes zero in one of the three spatial dimensions becomes zero in volume), but gains infinite mass.  That paradox is most evident at c, where all massive bodies become vanishingly small but infinitely massive.

      We have to find a workaround for that if we want humans to go to the stars, like we should.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:56:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can't go faster than light (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, Troubadour, G2geek, raster44

      in normal space. You just can't. It's the way the universe is built. Only light (and other massless particles) can travel at the speed of light. Anything with mass would achieve infinite mass and be infinitely foreshortened at the speed of light and infinitely slow.

      This idea is a possible workaround. Basically, you're inside a bubble that is not part of the universe, thus speed doesn't apply to you relative to the universe, but inside your bubble relativity would still apply, I think.

      At least that's my impression.

      Now my question is, will the warp bubble itself suffer from relativistic effects?

      "Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom. " - Death (Terry Pratchett character)

      by Thorby Baslim on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:29:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you still exist in that bubble (5+ / 0-)

        then whether you're in the thing that people call a "universe" doesn't seem to matter. If there's existence outside a "universe" then that other place is part of existence too, and therefore the idea of "nothing" going faster than light seems like a dubious one. It seems kind of presumptuous of the universe to say that something outside it is really "nothing." Like a country club or something.

        When those sorts of things happen, I always sort of assume we just still need to find a more accurate way of thinking about the issue.

      •  That is the question. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, raster44, Thorby Baslim

        As an optimist, Yes we can!  No, that bubble would exist out of spacetime, I reckon.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:46:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The bubble is contained within (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Thorby Baslim
        Basically, you're inside a bubble that is not part of the universe
        The bubble is still part of the "universe". It's just a very clever way of taking a shortcut through the universe. And yes, relativity still applies inside the bubble.

        --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

        by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:46:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I figured it still applied in the bubble (0+ / 0-)

          Was wondering about the interaction of the outer part of the bubble and the universe at large.

          "Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom. " - Death (Terry Pratchett character)

          by Thorby Baslim on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 12:08:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Speed Limit C (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      Nothing can go faster than light. Including this warp drive. It doesn't propel the ship through space. It bends space-time itself! To an observer on Earth, if she were to measure the distance from Earth to the destination then divide by the amount of time it took to get there, it would appear that the warp drive moved faster than light, but in actuality it didn't because it didn't move through conventional space. It warps the fabric of space to bring the starting point and end points closer together. The speed of light limit would not be violated.

      --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

      by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:42:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll still get stuck behind a crying infant (16+ / 0-)

    Flying is still gonna be a pain, no matter how fast I'm going.

  •  If we thought about it, what about... (6+ / 0-)

    others?

    Vote Tea Party Taliban! Bring the Burqa to America.

    by Pescadero Bill on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:49:55 PM PDT

    •  I'll introduce them to you (4+ / 0-)

      if you can give me the password.

    •  Aliens? (7+ / 0-)

      That would depend on the time-adjusted Drake Equation.  To encounter an alien civilization doesn't just mean meeting them in space, but being around at the same time before they die out or become too advanced to recognize.  

      There could reasonably be anywhere from a few dozen to tens of thousands of technological civilizations in the Milky Way at any given time, most far in advance of us since we're just starting.  But since we're just beginning to even scope out planets around other stars, we're nowhere near the point where we could remotely sense their activity - and that's assuming we would know what to look for.

      If we ever did encounter any of them, it would be thousands of years in the future.

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

      by Troubadour on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:45:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have thought about this question for (5+ / 0-)

        a very long time, and have not doped it out well yet.  On one hand, they MUST exist because of the maths.  On the other hand, where ARE they?

        I have to disagree with your tenant that the ALL have to be more advances that we.  Why not them being neolithic?  We humans are just babies, but there might be more babies, as well as adults in our galaxy.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

        by Translator on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:52:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Where ARE they?" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Khun David, raster44

          Like I said, we're just now developing the ability to detect planets around stars in our local part of the galaxy - detecting artificial activity, let alone on the part of a technology whose tenets we would probably not be familiar with, is quite another matter.  And even if we had the ability to detect very fine details of electromagnetic activity around other stars nearby - even if we could take crystal-clear photographs of other planets - the math still suggests that our tiny sliver of the galaxy wouldn't have a very big chance of having anyone else in it.  We would have to see much further afield to detect others.

          As to Neolithic, etc. - we wouldn't detect them, so that doesn't really matter.  At most we would detect signs of life in the gas chemistry of an extrasolar planet's atmosphere, but there's no way we're going to see river settlements or the like from light years away.  And those types also aren't likely to be nearby anyway.  It will be a long time before we run into anyone, if ever - but we will probably detect biospheres of some kind or other through spectrum analysis of atmospheres.

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:23:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Starting about 80 years ago (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, raster44

            we started broadcasting in radio, and our radio signals starting escaping from Earth.  They were weak and over time they started getting stronger, and eventually, television started being broadcast as well.

            Starting around 30 years ago, cable television started to become commonplace, and over time, more and more telecommunication is taking place via satellite beamed down to earth (XM radio) or via coaxial or fiber optic cable.  

            It won't be long before we become hidden again; and this might be the case with others.

            You're rignt about being able to detect atmospheres being detectable.  Ionizing gases, such as ozone and carbon monoxide should be detectable over interstellar distances, once we know where to look, and these gases would only form in the presence of molecular oxygen.

            It's about time I changed my signature.

            by Khun David on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:21:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  where they are: using different means of... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, Translator, raster44, Odysseus

          .... communication, that we haven't figured out yet.

          There are two signs we could detect that are more or less "necessary" concomitants of any technologically capable civilization.  

          One is artificial light emitted from the back side of their planets.

          The other, and even more inescapable, is more heat being emitted from the backside of their planet than the planet receives from its star.  That would be detectable as infrared.

          And the best part is, we'll be able to find this stuff when we become capable of getting even a one-pixel image of another planet.  All those planets we're discovering right now, we can't even "see," we're just observing their necessary effects upon the positions of their stars in space.  Once we can "see" planets, in the sense of being able to image planets directly, we'll know almost immediately if they have technologically-capable civilizations.

          And I'm going to guess that these will be found in bands that are approximately our distance from the center of our galaxy, for reasons of the age of star formation and the distance from other destructive cosmic events that would wipe out civilizations in areas where stars are more densely packed in space.  

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

          by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:17:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Those aren't sufficient signals. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator, G2geek, raster44

            Light coming from a night side could be from lava, non-intelligent bioluminescence, or some other process than cities, and heat emission from a planet has multiple potential sources - the star, radioactive decay in the interior driving geologic activity, and tidal heating from other bodies in a system.  It can also come from the biological processes of non-sentient life.  Ruling out these other causes would involve a level of remote sensing that isn't even on the horizon.  

            Remember the Martian "canals"?  There are plenty of features on other bodies in our own solar system that seem remarkably orderly to be natural, but they are - we only find out how they came out by being able to do close research with probes.

            We would need very high resolution imagery and spectral data to know whether we were looking at technology.  How do you know whether hotspots on a moon in vacuum are volcanoes or cities - or cities located near volcanoes to harness their heat?  It's just too complicated to figure out without a lot of data.

            Most likely other civilizations live on average too far away to obtain such precise data.  However, I do think we're within a century of detecting planets whose atmospheres indicate life.

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

            by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:55:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh yes they are (evil grin!;-) (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raster44, Odysseus

              1)  Light from the dark side:  spectrographic analysis will reveal if it comes from natural sources or artificial sources.  Fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, all of these have very distinct spectra and especially they have "missing" bands of certain wavelengths.  

              Look at different types of lights through a decent diffraction grating:  you'll see the band gaps, they are unmistakable.  I don't know of any naturally-occurring phenomenon that does that, and chemistry works the same way everywhere.  So we could (and probably have done) figure out every possible chemistry that can produce light at biologically relevant temperatures, and conservatively rule any such observations as "not technology" in our search.  

              2)  Infra-red and volcanos:  An interesting confound, to be sure, but consider this: volcanic heat output can be assumed to be independent of the season, whereas artificial heat output would rise in a cold season relative to a hot season.  There may be other ways to tease that relationship apart.

              And yes, agreed, we need much better sensing capabilities.   A very large array telescope station on the Moon could be just the ticket.  But we have to get back to the Moon first, and then plant our feet in the ground and plan to stay a while.

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

              by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 03:18:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But you're still assuming an incredible degree (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                raster44, Odysseus, Pescadero Bill, G2geek

                of resolution, which we don't even really have for remote-sensing objects in our own solar system.  And even if we did, how exactly do you propose to tell the difference between artificial chemically-based lighting and bioluminescence that uses the same chemicals?  Or will we only be able to detect lighting technologies that civilizations would only use for a few decades because those are the ones we're currently using?  

                And further, why we would assume technological civilizations would see in visible spectra, or see at all?  Our detection of non-terrestrial lifeforms will probably go like this, with decades to centuries separating each step.

                1.  Remote detection of planets with atmospheres conducive to life as we know it.

                2.  After thousands of such detections, perhaps we find a few with anomolous gas profiles possibly indicating artificial activity.

                3.  Very likely none of them would pan out, but eventually one would keep accumulating evidence that there's something going on artificially.

                4.  We keep building up remote sensing capabilities precisely to focus on this/these world(s), and slowly build up an incredibly vague picture.

                5.  And then, most likely, we find nothing.  Or ruins chemically decomposing and releasing industrial byproducts into an atmosphere.

                6.  Maybe we go through that a few times before we finally find some active civilization, probably younger than ours given that we're looking at planets.

                7.  After finding a bunch of those, we then start looking further afield, and eventually discover something that is suspected of being way more advanced than us - probably not on a planet.

                8.  We slowly build a detailed profile of this whatever-it-is, and...still have no clue how it works or what the people behind it are like.  And it remains a mystery for the next umpteen thousand years while we catch up.

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

                by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 03:44:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Great discussion but it begs the question ... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Troubadour, G2geek

                  ... that if alien civilizations (sorry, 'undocumented' civilizations!) were able to advance beyond where we are now and make use of technologies which required massive energies then would we not be able to detect them in some way?

                  In this specific example of the Warp Drive, what would an observer experience as a warp bubble travelled across my field of view?  If I am reading this correctly then space itself is being bent around the bubble - but if I am in the space that is being bent (and not inside the bubble that is NOT being bent) then would not the ship appear to stretch out in the direction in which the bubble is traveling?  Or would it just wink out of view because it is moving faster (the bubble, that is) than the light that is coming off of it?

                  In any case, I find it hard to believe that alien technologies that require so much energy would not leave a clear remnant for us to detect.  Of course, I realize we are in our infancy in terms of detection, but what types of things should we be looking for out in space?  Planets are everywhere but surely there must be some type of energy resource that would draw space faring civilizations in the same way that a watering hole draws all sorts of different animals.  I would think that it would be easier to watch the watering holes from our great distance than try to detect the animals deep inside their dens?

                  Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

                  by Terrapin on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:29:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Even if a million H bombs went off at once (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    G2geek

                    in one place, there's virtually no chance we would detect that at typical interstellar distances unless we were looking right at where it happened, when it happened, and then it would be the tiniest blip in starlight.  I doubt it's much use trying to speculate on what to look for from an advanced civilization - if we can find it at all, eventually it would be obvious.  For now, the focus is on finding high levels of oxygen in planetary (and eventually moon) atmospheres.

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

                    by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:57:06 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  good progression there, though... (0+ / 0-)

                  .... I think it's likely we would make progress from 1. to 8. more rapidly than thousands of years.   It's taken slightly more than fifty years to get from our first Earth-orbiting satellite to space telescopes that can provide evidence of the existence of planets in distant star systems.  

                  Now consider a very large array positioned e.g. on the surface of Mars, for example in a ring around Mars like an artificial equator on the polar axis so it sweeps through space in a circle, like a searchlight.

                  I'm sure you know the item about telescope arrays having the power of telescopes of the size equal to the size of the array (e.g. two telescopes a mile apart produce results similar to those of a single telescope with a one-mile-wide sensing element).  Using Mars or even the Moon for that purpose (there's a tradeoff between size and atmosphere, I don't know how that would come out) would be a worthy exercise.   And we could build something like that in a few hundred years if we put ourselves to the task.

                  No matter what we do in space, we are bound to make new discoveries including some that are entirely unexpected.  Space exploration has near-infinite upside and no downside in terms of the knowledge gained.  So even if we build X and it's not useful for purpose Y, we will discover that it's useful for purposes Z and Q that we didn't anticipate, and brings in new knowledge along those lines.

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

                  by G2geek on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 03:19:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  12,000 year to go across the galaxy? (5+ / 0-)

    That sounds pretty good as a matter of fact, as long the warp drives can be used to carry wormholes while preserving their internal geometry.

    If we add a little bit of Dan Simmons-like farcaster magic to open and close portals linked to the wormhole network, it means that my kids, 400 generations removed, will be able to go visit the four quadrants of the galaxy in the span of a day.

    I'm optimistic. After all 400 generations isn't that much.

    I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

    by Farugia on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:01:05 PM PDT

  •  Make it so! nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Troubadour, G2geek, raster44

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:02:02 PM PDT

  •  Yabbut... what about moving the drive ring? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Troubadour, G2geek, raster44

    Or would we need to build a space equivalent of a maglev train?

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:08:28 PM PDT

  •  Hey, whatever ~ (5+ / 0-)

    No matter how far away the technology might be, the theoretical breakthrough is magnificent.

    Thanks for the excellent read.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:31:57 PM PDT

  •  This plus the instant Entanglement Communication (8+ / 0-)

    Technology that may come about from Quantum Entanglement means that when the Spaceships get to other Stars the need to return with the info is not needed and so that cuts down the time needed to explore and settle other Systems.http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/... this site shows that (by zooming in) with-in 12.5 Light-years there are at least 33 Stars so that means at 10C those stars are just a little over at most a year away and if the Entanglement Communications works then fewer Manned and Unmanned Spaceships would be needed for us on Earth to know what is out there .

  •  Forget Alpha Centauri for a moment... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Troubadour, raster44, Odysseus

    How much more feasible would it be to make something like this that would go 55 miles per hour?  How DOWN-scaleable is it?  You have to start somewhere.  How feasible just to make some kind of unmanned pea-sized bubble that could travel at a very slow speed from one edge of a table to the other?  Some kind of basic proof of concept.

    •  The researchers who did the study (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, raster44, MarkInSanFran

      are setting up experiments to form microscopic warp bubbles in the lab using lasers.  If they can do that, then they can try to use the bubbles to move subatomic particles a short distance.  Then a longer distance.  Then whole atoms.  Then clouds of atoms.  Then grains of dust, sand grains, pebbles, etc.  How fast they scale - if they can do it at all - is unknowable.

      How fast they can go initially would probably depend on how they accelerate the bubble, which has yet to be figured out.  For the moment, if I read correctly, they're focused on just creating such bubbles.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:37:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  they're working on it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, Dumbo, raster44, Odysseus

      But it's not possible to make it go "slowly" as in 55mph.  As with jet aircraft or rockets into Earth orbit, there are minimum speeds involved in these things.  

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

      by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:23:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a thought this research shows that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Troubadour, raster44

    ET's could arrive at anytime,if they haven't already.

    •  Highly doubtful. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      defluxion10, raster44

      The remote possibility always exists, but it wouldn't be what people generally think of when they refer to it - skinny grey things shaped like warped humans anal-probing drunken rednecks?  Nah.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:42:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes, exactly, which is why our own David Brin... (5+ / 0-)

      .... who is not only a recognized science fiction author but a working scientist who has worked for NASA, has said he doesn't believe that we should be broadcasting "welcome!" messages to ET from Earth: they really could get here fast enough that if they aren't friendly (or even if they are), we could be in for a very rough time.  

      But also, consider this:

      If you had a huge budget for an ambitious space program, and your culture worked on long time-horizons, what would you do?

      You'd probably set up a program to send large numbers of robotic devices to scope out the nearby part of the galaxy.  Many fast cheap probes, and relatively few live-crewed missions that focus on areas that the probes show to be interesting.

      Now consider the problem of how a probe using any kind of inertial mass canceling drive would move through the atmosphere around a planet it was exploring.  

      Lastly, consider what that might look like to an observer on the ground who didn't know what it was they were seeing.

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

      by G2geek on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:29:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am NOMAD. I am perfect. You are not. Sorry n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raster44, Troubadour, G2geek
      •  Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, G2geek
        You'd probably set up a program to send large numbers of robotic devices to scope out the nearby part of the galaxy.  Many fast cheap probes, and relatively few live-crewed missions that focus on areas that the probes show to be interesting.
        Wikipedia: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

        There's a movie about that.

        Rodney Brooks, the robot scientist from MIT, wrote a paper in which he speculates that it might be more effective to send one hundred one-kilogram robots into space, instead of a single hundred-kilogram robot, replacing the need for reliability with chance and sheer numbers, as systems in nature have learned to do. The advantage would be that if a single robot malfunctioned or got destroyed, there would still be plenty of other working robots to do the exploring. The paper was fully titled "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control: A Robot Invasion of the Solar System", and published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1989.
        Or just the X-Files.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:39:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem with probe swarms heretofore (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, G2geek

          has been the expense of launch.  When launches are hugely expensive, you can't afford to be redundant.  There's also the size issue with outer solar system probes requiring nuclear power - miniaturization just isn't in the cards for those at the moment.  But once launch costs come down, that will change.

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:00:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Now THIS I like (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, raster44, Odysseus, cybersaur

    When it was diaried the other day it soon lapsed into the "well if you say so" realm for all I could tell. I'm not stupid and took a fair number of physics classes, but the last one was well over 40 years ago (and I dropped it in frustration).

    So for the average person--a role I'm willing to assume here--what's really pertinent is not the technical explanation as much as it is the relative feasibility of designing experiments to test the hypothesis. From that perspective it matters less WHY it might work than THAT it might work.

    I will say on the other hand that it seems to me very probable that in order to develop a culture where travel between solar systems is remotely practicable, we'll need to find ways of extending the human lifespan considerably. This will in turn require us to be just a bit less obsessed with reproducing as much as we currently do, or we'll simply reproduce the same insanity we have here on every planet we colonize.

    •  If FTL warp drive becomes reality (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raster44

      there wouldn't be much need to extend human lifespans greatly - trips would only be a few months to a few years within the neighborhood.  Provided transport occurs regularly in both directions, that wouldn't necessarily be a lifetime commitment.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:06:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  paradoxical time loops, anyone? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, maxentropy, terrypinder

    If you can travel FTL, you can arrange for effects to occur before the actions that cause them.

    That would seem to indicate a problem somewhere down the line.

    •  No. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raster44, cybersaur

      As stated in the diary, time-dilation does not apply to an Alcubierre drive.

      Granted, it does open up interesting possibilities: You could do something, get in an FTL ship, race ahead of the light from yourself doing that thing, and then watch yourself doing it through a telescope.  But that's not time travel.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:08:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (4+ / 0-)

        Alas, any information transferred from point A to point B superluminally would mean that if event C causes event D in one reference frame, then event D can cause event C in another.  This violates causality.

        I am not an expert on the Alcubierre drive.  I do know that it requires negative energy states (so called "exotic matter") which probably doesn't exist.   Actually, the wiki article is quite good on the subject:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        So, probably impossible, but still a lot of fun to speculate about.

        •  I don't see where you're getting that. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raster44, Odysseus, cybersaur

          There's no causality loop involved because there's no time travel involved.  No matter how fast you go, you cannot arrive before you leave - relativistic travel is limited to sub-c, and travel inside a bubble isn't affected by time-dilation, so a clock inside the bubble would read exactly the same thing as a clock outside at every moment.  

          You could not arrive back at your original location and meet yourself: All you could experience are the lightspeed consequences of the past, like throwing a ball in the air, running forward, and catching it.  Just because you're both the pitcher and the catcher doesn't change anything fundamental about the ball or the sequence of events that unfolds with it.  Nothing you can possibly do would cause light and gravity waves from your future self to arrive at your starting point before you leave.  Nothing.  That's why quantum entanglement doesn't violate causality, and neither does superluminal warp travel.

          As to negative energy states, this is already an accepted part of physics - re: Hawking radiation.  I'm not qualified to argue in any greater detail than that.

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:54:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  he's correct i think. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raster44, Troubadour, FishOutofWater

            even though the bubble is its own reference frame. I guess. I haven't had my tea yet so I'm still asleep.

            i'm glad a lot of people are talking about this. I wrote about this earlier did week, as did rimjob.

            pseudoscience can kill

            by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:35:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just don't see how. (0+ / 0-)

              And there are physicists who obviously know what they're doing saying this can be done, so...

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

              by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:08:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  He's not correct (0+ / 0-)

              The warp drive is not superluminal travel. Relativity and the laws of physics do not get violated. That's why this is such a big deal.

              --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

              by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:59:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You don't know who you are arguing with (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                maxentropy

                And you don't understand his argument. He's not arguing about the warp in space. He's arguing about the problem of information transfer & causality.

                He's a theoretical physicist with many peer reviewed publications.

                look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

                by FishOutofWater on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:53:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I understand his argument just fine (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Troubadour

                  But he is incorrect because there is no superluminal travel and no time dilation, therefor, to use his example,
                  event C causes event D in one reference frame, then event D cannot cause event C in another.
                  Event C still happened in the past relative to all observers so event D will never cause event C. The warp drive theory says nothing about going back in time nor does it state that the ship would travel faster than light.
                  I think this passage is relevent to the reference frames objection:

                  Hubble's law predicts
                  that galaxies beyond a certain distance, known as the Hubble distance, recede faster than the speed of light. For the
                  measured value of the Hubble constant, this distance is about 14 billion light-years.
                  Does this prediction of faster-than-light galaxies mean that Hubble's law is wrong? Doesn't Einstein's special theory of
                  relativity say that nothing can have a velocity exceeding that of light? This question has confused generations of
                  students. The solution is that special relativity applies only to "normal" velocities--motion through space. The velocity in
                  Hubble's law is a recession velocity caused by the expansion of space, not a motion through space. It is a general
                  relativistic effect and is not bound by the special relativistic limit. Having a recession velocity greater than the speed of
                  light does not violate special relativity. It is still true that nothing ever overtakes a light beam.
                  Misconceptions about the Big Bang
                  Think of it this way, we can already travel faster than the speed of sound so if you started yelling in California then jetted off to New York at twice the speed of sound and hopped out of your plane and started listening, you would be able to hear what you were yalling back in California once the sound finally caught up! Now, this analogy is different in one important detail: the warp drive ship never actually travels faster than light! It just takes a shortcut that the light doesn't take!

                  --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

                  by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:01:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Busy today (3+ / 0-)

            not much time for a long discussion.  Time travel is irrelevant.   It is a fact that if there is a reference frame in which an object goes from spacetime event A to event B faster than light, then there exist another reference frame in which the event at B can affect the event at A.   This is a violation of causality.  Not quite time travel, but still violates causality.   Note that this assumes relativity is correct - if there are quantum gravity affects, it could change it.

            Quantum entanglement doesn't violate causality because information does not travel faster than light, i.e. you can't use entanglement to send a specific non-random message from A to B faster than light (correlations between random sequences can exist, but that can't be used to send information).

            Hawking radiation isn't quite negative energy (energy is not trivial to define in general relativity, so one must be precise).   The Casimir effect does seem to give negative energy states, but it's really, really weak.  

            Basically, I'd say the FTL is incompatible with causality if one is restricted to special and general relativity.  Since we know the quantum effects can mess those up, one certainly can't rule it out altogether.

            •  Well, I can't argue any further. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cybersaur

              I don't understand why you think that causality is violated, or why you think the objections I raise to your thinking so are not valid.  I also don't understand why you're saying this is impossible while NASA physicists presenting at the DARPA symposium are saying otherwise - in fact, are saying the technological potential has gone from far-fetched to "plausible."

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

              by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:11:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Explain it to me step by step. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cybersaur

              Explain it without resorting to begging the question.  "It is a fact that if there is a reference frame in which an object goes from spacetime event A to event B faster than light, then there exist another reference frame in which the event at B can affect the event at A" is not an explanation - it is a restatement of your claim.

              Explain to me how the interception of one's own light can cause the scenario you're describing.  How does intercepting light interfere in the event that emitted it?  You're welcome to plead mathematics, as I'm not qualified to argue on that level, but the claim makes zero sense as a thought experiment.  There is no reference frame I can think of where Event A is affected by Event B - only the interpretation of their light by distant observers, which has nothing to do with causality.  

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

              by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:43:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Ugh! Theoretical physicists can be such buzzkills! (3+ / 0-)

              'Reference frames', 'information transfers', 'our universe is a hologram', 'eight-no-ten-no-twelve different dimensions!'

              If we had more brilliant engineers and fewer brilliant theoreticians then I would be neck-deep in gorgeous green alien babes by now!

              (kidding!)

              Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

              by Terrapin on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:11:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're not wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                Engineering is where all the magic happens.  Science fleshes out a space of possibilities - engineers have to cut through the thicket to make a path from A to B.  Science is what, engineering is how, economics is when, politics is why.

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

                by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:04:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  you need to consider other people's frames (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder

            While there might not be a problem for you alone, there is a problem once you interact with other people.  They can close a paradoxical time loop if they are traveling at relativistic speeds.

            •  Some folks keep saying this (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cybersaur

              but I still don't see how this is the case.  You have a clock on the outside and a clock on the inside.  You take the ship at 10c in a circle and return to your place of origin.  Since there's no time-dilation, the clocks are the same.  You may be able to watch yourself leave from a distance because you've outrun your own light, but the signal of your departure has already left and you'll arrive back at your origin alone.  There is no causal loop interaction with anyone or anything.

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

              by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:09:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  There is no time loop! (0+ / 0-)

              This is NOT conventional space travel. It isn't a propulsion system that propels the craft through space. It bends space time! And the reason it doesn't violate physics is exactly the same reason that the accelerating expansion of the universe does not violate our understanding of physics.
              Look, the universe is 13.7 billion years old, yet it is thought to be some 46 billion light years across. How could that be without the expansion "traveling" at superluminal speeds? The answer is that space-time itself is expanding. Nothing is actually "moving" faster than light. It only has the appearance of having done so!
              Here's a great article that helps explain why the expansion of the universe doesn't violate the laws of physics. It will shed some light on why the warp drive also doesn't violate the laws of physics:
              Misconceptions about the Big Bang [PDF]

              --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

              by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:09:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  this is physics 101 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, FishOutofWater

        It doesn't matter what happens inside the bubble.

        Assume that I use the FTL drive to send a message from A to B at twice light speed.

        Then in an alternative reference frame for someone moving near the speed of light, the message's arrival at B will be seen before the message is sent at A.  So a person in that reference frame could look at the message arriving at B and later deliberately prevent that message from being sent from A.

        If special relativity is correct (and it sure seems to be) there is no obvious way around that.

        One possible solution is that once you start the drive you can never stop it and get out.  That would prevent any message from being delivered at B.   There might be other such solutions.

        •  Misconceptualization (0+ / 0-)

          This is not faster than light travel. You are not conceptualizing correctly how the drive operates. It does not violate the laws of physics and does not enable faster than light travel through relativistic space. It bends space-time itself! There is no time dilation with this warp drive.

          --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

          by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:13:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  then it isn't an "FTL" drive (0+ / 0-)

            other than for the people inside the ship.

            pseudoscience can kill

            by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:19:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The terminology is confusing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour

              You could actually arrive at your destination before a laser beam that left at the same time, but the craft itself never actually goes faster than light. The warp drive warps the fabric of space to create a sort of shortcut to the destination.

              --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

              by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:28:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  then if there's a shortcut (0+ / 0-)

                you've got a causality problem then, I think.

                I understand it like this, and I hope folks reading feel free to correct anything I might have wrong:
                 If I lived near, say, Sydney, and looked up at Alpha Centauri this evening (because there are almost no points in the US where this star system can be seen), I'm seeing the year 2008(ish). That's when that light left that star. Looking up into the sky is like looking back in time.

                Say we have a ship with a working drive ready now. Its clock is set to September 21, 2012. It leaves Earth orbit and turns on its drive. It arrives (according to the ship within the bubble) 5 months later in January 2013. The ship putts around the Centauri stars and whatever solar systems that may exist there till say May or so and then turns on its bubble and comes back, arriving back at Earth in September of 2013 according to its clock. This is where I keep getting hung up on the causality thing. Is it September 2013 on Earth, like on the starship? If it is, then we've violated causality.

                pseudoscience can kill

                by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:43:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not seeing how causality is violated. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cybersaur

                  We're accustomed to treating the arrival of light as being synonymous with time, but that's not the case.  Just because you arrive before light does not mean you've arrived before the events that caused its emission.  A ship arriving before you see it leave is not a causality violation - there's no cosmic traffic cop guaranteeing that everything arrives in order.  

                  Think about it like this: Imagine, for the sake of argument, a perfectly-aligned string of an arbitrarily large number of black holes that gravitationally lens the light from a star such that the light travels a path x times longer than if it were traveling in perfectly flat space to reach us.  Let's say we then launch a sub-light generation starship to reach this star, and succeed.  Now the light from our arrival at the star embarks on its long, twisted journey through this maze of bent space-time.  We leave and go back to Sol.  Finally the light from the star before our arrival and during the arrival reaches Sol because it went on a tortuously circuitous route to get there.  

                  That's no different than the "problems" you're seeing with FTL, and no different fundamentally from normal gravitational lens effects.  Causality is only tied to light speed in a relativistic reference frame - otherwise it makes absolutely no difference in what order light arrives.  Or at least that's as deeply as I can see it, and I defer to anyone who is in fact a physicist.

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

                  by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:59:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it's kind of like this (0+ / 0-)

                    (and while "science" upthread IS a physicist, I fully admit that I am not and have not had formal instruction in it for almost 14 years.)

                    If we on earth could see our tiny spaceship flitting about Alpha Centauri doing its exploration thing, we wouldn't see it until 4.3 years after it arrived in Alpha Centauri and returned. That is the causality violation, as I understand it.

                    Now, there is a theory out there that suggests that you can violate causality all you want but not a thing would occur because the universe self-corrects. I can't begin to explain it beyond that, so I defer to wikipedia.

                    pseudoscience can kill

                    by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:17:31 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  nope (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Troubadour

                      It is true that several years after the ship returned the light from when it was up there would finally arrive at Earth and you could see what it did while it was there, but causality is not violated because the ship didn't arrive at Earth before the what it did at Alpha Centauri actually took place. You're only seeing the light from several years ago, not a real-time event.

                      --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

                      by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:33:49 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  i am pretty sure this is still a (0+ / 0-)

                        causality violation, according to this site: http://www.theculture.org/...

                        but i will leave it to "science", if he returns to the thread, to explain in detail.

                        pseudoscience can kill

                        by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:44:55 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Article does not apply (0+ / 0-)

                          That article doesn't apply because we are not talking about "faster-than-light travel". The spaceship does not move through normal space in a race against light. The spaceship remains stationary and warps the fabric of space around it! The end result is that the spaceship gets to the destination before the light does, but at no time did the spaceship ever exceed the speed of light!

                          --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

                          by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:23:49 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  That has nothing to do with causality. (0+ / 0-)

                      And if you insist that it does, then you're simply defining nature as violating causality in the fact that naturally-occurring processes like gravitational lensing can already make it happen.  But insofar as the word causality has any actual meaning - i.e., the chain of events - it doesn't apply to this.  A thing arriving before you see it leave is irrelevant.  Even if you were traveling at sub-light speeds, you could theoretically divert the light from the ship's departure such that it only arrives after the spaceship does.  

                      Granted, the light would be balanced out in the fact that the light is dimmer and longer from traveling further, but that's how the universe works - things balance out.  They would balance out in some other way if you traveled FTL in a warp bubble.  Engineering is all just about finding out how to balance things so that the outcome is favorable.  Technology is all just about navigating a multitude of balances.  There's no free lunch, but there are plenty of bargains, and maybe...just maybe...comps.  It's all just a matter of finding the way.  The minute humanity stops believing that, we might as well just crawl back into the caves.

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

                      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:55:45 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I don't insist that it does (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Troubadour

                        physicists do: http://www.theculture.org/...

                        i am well aware that the metric might be a shortcut. but the shortcut has problems, as stated over and over again since 1994.

                        certainly is a worthy area of research, though.

                        pseudoscience can kill

                        by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:21:53 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  My perception of the problem is that (0+ / 0-)

                          conditional statements are being used as axioms.  If you leapt ahead of your own light cone in flat spacetime, then yeah that would be in violation - and the fact of the violation would be obvious in numerous other violations, which is why that's impossible.  But in curved spacetime, when the path of light is determined by the shape of underlying structure, it's not even the same phenomenon.  

                          You haven't actually exceeded the light, just taken a shorter path than the light is traveling - kind of like if you went sub-light and just redirected the light on a detour so that it arrived after you.  But instead of redirecting the light on a longer path, you redirect yourself on a shorter one.  This supposedly happens naturally under some rare special conditions, so there's no meaningful point in claiming causality violation or requiring a definition that excludes being ahead of one's own light horizon.  The whole universe is doing it by accelerating FTL.

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

                          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 12:51:07 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  Causality not violated (0+ / 0-)

                  There is no time dilation so the clock on the ship would always match the clock on Earth.
                  Now, once the ship made it back to Earth, it would still take several years for the light that left Alpha Centauri at the same time the ship did several more years to arrive on Earth.
                  I don't understand how you think this violates causality. The warp drive just creates a shortcut through space-time.

                  --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

                  by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:22:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it's because your clock (0+ / 0-)

                    on the ship, which matches that of Earth's, doesn't match that of Alpha Centauri. You'd arrive at Alpha Centauri before your light arrived there from Earth, 4.3 light years distant. That is how I understand it.

                    pseudoscience can kill

                    by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:50:46 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  closer (0+ / 0-)

                      ok, The clock on Earth would match the clock on the spaceship and Alpha Centauri. There is no time dilation here.
                      Yes, you would arrive on orbit around Alpha Centauri several years before the light from Earth made it there. The reason is because you took a "shortcut" through space-time that the light from Earth didn't take. All of the clocks would still show the same time, however.
                      I don't understand why you think the clock at Alpha Centauri would be a different time. It wouldn't.

                      --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

                      by cybersaur on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:17:43 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  But it would match the one on Alpha Centauri. (0+ / 0-)

                      You have three clocks: One is on Earth, one is on the warp ship, and the third is synchronized with the other two by correcting for the lightspeed delay in time reported from Earth.  All three match at the beginning.  You set out in the warp ship and no time-dilation occurs in transit, so the clock remains synchronized to Earth.  And since the one at Alpha Centauri was also synchronized to Earth, the arriving clock matches it too.  The only way it wouldn't match would be if you insisted on only caliberating the Alpha Centauri clock directly by the lightspeed signal from Earth, which simply begs the question because you're asserting that time is defined by light and thus correcting for lightspeed delay would be somehow "invalid."

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

                      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:19:41 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  That's not causality violation. (0+ / 0-)

                  The light takes a longer path through space than the object, same as if you simply diverted it with a series of gravitational lenses.  Only you're not diverting the light to a longer path - you're diverting the object to a shorter path.

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

                  by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:22:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  This is not physics 101. (0+ / 0-)

          Unless you are in the field, this is you pretending to know more than theoretical physicists because what they're saying doesn't comport with what you learned in a general relativity class, like people who try to use their 2 quarters of undergraduate biology to critique human evolution.

          Assume that I use the FTL drive to send a message from A to B at twice light speed.  Then in an alternative reference frame for someone moving near the speed of light, the message's arrival at B will be seen before the message is sent at A.
          You're framing it in terms that don't accurately describe the scenario: The message's arrival at B will not be seen before the message is sent at A - its arrival would be seen before the departure of the message is seen.  There's no cosmic requirement that you see things in order - no divine traffic cop guaranteeing that you receive packet 1 first and packet 2 second.  Obvious special cases of gravitational lensing make that abundantly clear, since light can be forced to take a longer path in one direction than in another.

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:27:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Science" made a similar argument (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MarkInSanFran

            He's a theoretical physicist with many publications.

            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

            by FishOutofWater on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:59:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wonderful. I defer to his expertise (0+ / 0-)

              and to the expertise of the researchers responsible for the work this diary talks about.  They'll have to work out among themselves who has the better case.  For my own amateur part - which has no bearing on scientific consensus since I'm not a scientist - I don't see how causality is violated simply because you outrun the perception of something happening at a distance from its point of origin, and no one who has made the claim has offered a sufficient - or really any - explanation.  It's simply asserted, as if it were axiomatic and must be taken on faith.

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

              by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:04:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  What about the energy requirements? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44

    I understand those were always the biggest single barrier to the Alcubierre drive.

    •  This whole diary is about energy requirements. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Athenian, Rich in PA, raster44, cybersaur

      Jeez, read it.  

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:33:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but you're ignoring the energy requirements. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kovie, raster44, Troubadour

        I think that part needs to be addressed.

        Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

        by Rich in PA on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:17:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I did read the diary. Nothing specific in it; (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FishOutofWater, terrypinder

        The diary is little but a feel-good fluff piece. Which would be fair enough (and interesting: I was unaware of Alcubierre's work prior to reading it), were it not for its seriously misleading title.

        The diary's title claims (hyperbole aside) that FTL travel is practically closer than previously, but the body cannot point to a single advance in related fields to justify this conclusion. It's not as if Alcubierre's work was published yesterday, you know.

        Had the diarist simply used the diary to promote the idea that it's possible to gain FTL travel, I'd have no problems. But they're suggesting that a practical solution has been brought forward by some (unspecified) new development, so I think I'm permitted to ask about the specifics.

        You know, without getting dogpiled for daring to question it.

        •  Normally when it's shown that something (0+ / 0-)

          requires 2.6 septillion less energy than previously thought, that's considered a major advance toward practicality.  Maybe you have higher standards, I don't know.  

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:29:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting (4+ / 0-)

    and very provocative article.

    And a bit of a pop-cultural allusion.  

    The picture showing a theoretical ship under Alcubierre Drive looks a great deal like one of the Vulcan starships shown in the series Star Trek: Enterprise.  Think they know something we don't?

    Anyway, there are still mammoth problems to be solved, but the great thing is they're solvable.  And in honor of Alcubierre, I think the ship should be named Quetzalcohuatl.

    Ad Astra!

  •  Garbage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44

    All this is squarely in the camp of Science Fiction. Good science fiction, but still fiction.

  •  By the way, the part about the rings shows (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Troubadour

    the movie "Contact" was right.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:16:00 AM PDT

  •  As long as embryonic stem cells are used, I'm in. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Troubadour, Odysseus

    Let's harvest our way to warp speed!

    Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

    by Rich in PA on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:16:31 AM PDT

  •  I think this proves that I really did learn all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Troubadour

    I needed to know by watching Star Trek.

  •  Couple things (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kovie, raster44, raincrow, FishOutofWater

    The energy it needs to create a spaceship is unobtanium. Whatever it is, it does not exist.

    I think this is a great experiment but the most we'll get out of it is faster computing. "Causality, Relativity, FTL. Choose any two," as the saying goes.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:41:36 AM PDT

    •  You mean...iWarp? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raster44, raincrow

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:23:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Umm...the whole subject of this diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur, raincrow

      is the fact that new research shows the energy required is NOT "unobtainium."  WTF?

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:15:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it requires exotic matter (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, FishOutofWater, Troubadour

        every paper written on the Alcuiberre Drive has stated so, including the one written by the creator of the metric back in 1994.

        exotic matter is still unobtanium. they have NOT proven it, to my knowledge, to exist yet.

        What this experiment is doing is attempting to see if on an incredibly tiny scale if it is possible to even perturb spacetime. I have no idea how they're doing it without exotic matter (even if you need a tiny, tiny bit of it). it hasn't even been done yet. I wonder if people will follow up when the experiment is completed in a few months.

        pseudoscience can kill

        by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:07:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  mostly agreed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          I don't think it's "unobtanium" in the sense that it's just some magical whoawhatzit.

          I mean we have dark matter and dark energy which we don't really know what it is, but we are awfully confident both exist.

          Then we have exotic matter (e.g. negative mass) which could exist but we don't have confidence at all that it does exist.

          But you are right that until we find some real evidence for the exotic matter required for warp drives then it's still in the realm of fringe science although I don't think it's all the way to science fiction.

          I do think we have a long way to go before we understand the universe so absolute statements like causality, relativity, FTL choose two are premature, although certainly not unfair to assert generally based on current understandings.

          •  yes (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raincrow, FishOutofWater

            i generally use the term "unobtanium" as magical whowhatsit :)

            pseudoscience can kill

            by terrypinder on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:53:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not premature (0+ / 0-)

            "I do think we have a long way to go before we understand the universe so absolute statements like causality, relativity, FTL choose two are premature"

            No, I think it's an accurate assessment to say {relativity, causality, FTL}, pick any two. What I think you're really wanting to say is that our understanding of the universe may be incomplete (which I agree with), in which case it may well be that relativity as we know it is incomplete or incorrect, thereby allowing FTL travel. But it certainly is not premature in offer that "absolute statement", because that absolute statement is just logic, pure and simple.

            •  yes our understanding is incomplete (0+ / 0-)

              thus an absolute statement like that isn't logic pure and simple it's a theory based on current understanding.

              Now future understanding could "lock" that into place, but right now, it's the absolute part I take issue with, not the part that says this is right based on what we know right now.

        •  They need exotic matter (0+ / 0-)

          under the current version of the theory - which, as the title states, has just had its most insurmountable obstacle downgraded by an unimaginably large factor.  Do we have any reason to think that this is the final word on the the subject?  Hardly.  It's barely even the second word.

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

          by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:24:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Can Mitt put his dog on the roof of this bubble? n (6+ / 0-)
  •  "a few hundred to a few thousand kilos" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kovie, raster44, Troubadour, Odysseus

    Just to keep that number in perspective, in the old A bombs I think the equivalent of about 1 g (not kg) of mass was converted to energy.
    With modern H bombs, that number might be 50 g.
    The other detail to keep in mind is I believe these energy requirements only keep the bubble in place for a pretty short amount of time. Like maybe a minute.
    So you're still talikng about energy on a scale we can't even begin to imagine how to generate, let alone control and channel.
    I agree however, its an exciting advance, and brings all this into the realm of "hmm, maybe" instead of something so out there you'd have to be a god for it to ever be anything other than a thought experiment.. In which case, what would you need warp drive for.

  •  When Steven Hawking appeared on (6+ / 0-)

    ST:TNG, he was given a tour of the sets.  When he got to Engineering and the Warp Core, he said

    "I'm working on that"

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:56:00 AM PDT

  •  I expect this is wishful thinking - nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, raincrow

    http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations/org/FDTD.pdf From Dictatorship to Democracy, Guide to Non Violent Protests.

    by sdelear on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:01:58 AM PDT

  •  I still think the biggest obstacle is space shit. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Troubadour, Odysseus, raincrow

    You will be travelling at a zillion miles per hour, and smash into a wayward grain of sand, which will tear your vehicle into a kajillion nanoshards (which will then hit another million spaceships, creating an endless cycle of deep space death).

    NO LITTERING.
    Fine: $8,972,000,000,000,000.00

    To conservatives, liberals are stupid. To Liberals, conservatives are insane. So..."Bipartisanship" is what happens when a lunatic and a moron find common ground.

    by PBJ Diddy on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:04:38 AM PDT

  •  I volunteer Newt Gingrich to test pilot the thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Troubadour, raincrow

    Psst, don't tell him it doesn't exist yet. Just build a mock up, fill it with blonde blow-up dolls, and pipe in Reagan speeches over the PA system.

    Call it FreeDumb Won.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:21:22 AM PDT

    •  Let's go back 109 years to Wright Brothers at (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, Troubadour

      Kitty Hawk and have this conversation. Can Man fly? What did the Wright's plane fly....112 feet? What would Wrights think of this talk? Blasphemy, I say....the Sun moves around the flat Earth and it's only 5,000 years since the Creation.

      Those supposed pictures from Mars are being done on a computer in Area 51! Romney wants to be President so he can offshore this Big Government operation to his friends in China, steal Social Security funds, borrow all the Federal Reserve money, declare the United States bankrupt, and make a killing for him and Ann.


      Are all Republicans crazy?

      by raster44 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:17:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obviously, not all of them believe this idiocy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow

        Some like Romney are just in it for the cash and ego trip, others are just too weak to resist and go with the flow. See, they ARE a diverse party!

        I can't believe that even a diary on warp travel can be made relevant to today's issues. There's just no escaping them, in time or space...

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:25:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why would you give him that honor? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      Fuck him.

      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

      by ranger995 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:14:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Awesome stuff! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, ranger995, raincrow

    Now when are they going to invent the holodeck? I want my holodeck! :)

    "If you're looking for somebody with George W. Bush's economic policy, Dick Cheney's foreign policy, and Rick Santorum's social policy, then Mitt Romney's your man." -- James Carville

    by terabthia2 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:46:25 AM PDT

  •  Yikes! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow

    Septillion times less energy required sounds encouraging.

    Until one considers that the amount of mass converted to energy in a nuclear bomb is measured in fractions of a gram.  Building such a machine would require the release of energy equivalent to MILLIONS of atomic bombs.

    I think this might be a bit tricky.  Calling this sort of stuff a "theory" does a disservice to the meaning of the word.  How about "pie in the sky" fantasy?

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:53:51 AM PDT

    •  The fact that they reduced the theoretical (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur, raincrow

      energy requirements by 2.6 septillion times just by altering the geometry of the bubble indicates that there's quite a lot of room for improvement in these numbers.  You say millions of atom bombs - well, that just means the amount only has to be reduced by a factor of a few million next time.  Seems like a pretty humble next step compared to this one.

      Calling this sort of stuff a "theory" does a disservice to the meaning of the word.  How about "pie in the sky" fantasy?
      Are you a physicist?  I'm not.  So I'll be happy to defer to physicists, including the one responsible for this research.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:23:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  fringe science is better (0+ / 0-)

      this isn't the end product.

      We have a few trillion years of possible existence to tweak things a bit in both arenas ;)

    •  Not quite sure. (0+ / 0-)

      I'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure we're talking about on the order of 10 thousand nuclear bombs (annihilating about 1 metric ton) to transport a macroscopic object an interstellar distance.  The experiment Dr. White describes will be 15 or more orders of magnitude smaller.

  •  The thing to remember about getting to places (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Odysseus

    Fast though, especially for planetary exploration/colonization/building resort hotels; you've gotta get DOWN, then UP again. And warp drives don't help with that - work still needs to be done on new tech for that.

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:57:18 AM PDT

  •  Fascinating! Exciting! And depressing... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Nice Ogre

    that we will all be dead and gone before this is achieved.  

    I've always believed that if we human can manage to avoid killing ourselves off, we are destined to travel the stars, even if in the distant future.  Just sucks that I won't ever get to see it happen.

    Oh well, at least we have the internet. :)

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:00:13 AM PDT

  •  I've likened it to water walking ball (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:21:30 AM PDT

  •  It's only logical that that is a Vulan ship. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    You can't take the sky from me!

    by wrights on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:29:18 AM PDT

  •  unless (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    it has military applications it will never be funded.  The only reason we reached the moon was because some nazis wanted to blow up stuff with missiles.

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:49:43 AM PDT

    •  It probably would have military applications (0+ / 0-)

      for rapid travel within the solar system, once there are civilziations spread around and develop tensions between them.  With FTL drive, the entire solar system would be within reach on timescales currently available for reaching distant parts of the globe - half a day at most.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 09:36:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Low latency satellite telecom. (0+ / 0-)

      Good enough application for you?

  •  so, what has happened to Relativity theory which (0+ / 0-)

    claimed that no mass could be accelerated form below light speed to above light speed?


    "A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous..........got me?" - Don Van Vliet

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:06:53 AM PDT

  •  Wow, that is fucking amazing! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, prfb

    Thanks for this informative and optimistic diary.

    "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

    by ranger995 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:11:46 AM PDT

  •  "I can imagine this being late 22nd century" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Troubadour

    For your information Wikipedia informs us that warp drive is to be invented in 2063.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  Looks like Spock's ship :) nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Troubadour

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -- JC, Matthew 6:24

    by Chi on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:18:37 AM PDT

  •  But... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Troubadour

    doesnt anyone on one of those starships have to leave everything they've ever known behind?

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

    by glbTVET on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:21:53 AM PDT

    •  That's never stopped people before. (0+ / 0-)

      And if entangled-particle communications became practical, they could communicate instantaneously with the people they leave behind.  And if not, they could still send FTL messages on ships.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 11:30:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't work that way. (0+ / 0-)

        What you essentially have are two perfectly correlated random number generators.  They'll tick over to the same values, but you're not actually transmitting information.

        On the other hand, if physics can rescue pathological solutions to EFE like Alcubierre, then perhaps similar solutions can be used for signaling.

  •  I'm already planning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Troubadour

    my vacation to Gliese 581g.

    •  You might be disappointed. (0+ / 0-)

      There's a wide range of possibilities for such a planet in the habitable zone.  It could be a Venus-like hellhole with a brutal atmosphere, or a giant frigid rock with a thin atmosphere mostly frozen on its night side, or various things between.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:34:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Talking About Hope and Change (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glbTVET, Troubadour

    Stories like this make me wish I were born 1000 years from now.

    •  But even if you were, you'd still wish that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nice Ogre

      Progress, expansion, and overall optimism of humanity aren't necessarily reflected in the lifestyles and living conditions of the people at the time.  The Space Race was a one-of-a-kind time in history when people were both very comfortable and behaving intrepidly, and it only happened because of unique geopolitical forces aligning.  Usually frontiers are grim, and once they stop being grim, they become boring.  Being both adventurous and nurturing is a rare and temporary thing for any environment.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:11:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If FTL is feasible then this makes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    Fermi's paradox even more of a paradox. A civilization a half million years ahead of us with this technology should have colonized most of the galaxy and we should have noticed by now.

     In a weird way I've comforted myself with the idea that FTL and interstellal travel was difficult maybe even impossible that's why we haven't noticed aliens yet.

     Now I'm starting to think the possiblilty that we are alone (intelligent life) is a number greater than zero.

    •  Why would we have noticed? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ebohlman

      It's a pretty low probability that any given ant colony on Earth has ever been within a mile of a human being, let alone been directly affected by one.  The chances of our noticing or being affected by a vastly superior galactic civilization are, if anything, a lot smaller than that.  And if we had witnessed large-scale artificial behavior, how would we even recognize it if we didn't know to look for it?  How would we recognize a stellar explosion that occurred as an act of war vs. one that happened naturally?  Astronomers might be surprised by a given star behaving in unexpected ways, but without having any technological basis to speculate, no one would ever suggest it was artificial.

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

      by Troubadour on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 01:03:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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