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To boldy go where no one has gone before?
The above image was created in collaboration with researchers at NASA on what a ship with warp drive might look like.

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

In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a metric for expanding the fabric of space behind an object into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the object that resembles Star Trek's Warp Drive.

The theories behind warp drive attempt to circumvent the limitation. While Einstein's limitations in special relativity would apply to an object attempting to go faster than the speed of light, nothing in general relativity forbids space itself from moving faster than light. In fact, Cosmic Inflation Theory says the universe did exactly that after the Big Bang, when for less than a second there was exponential expansion. This is the explanation for the "Horizon Problem." The idea of Warp Drive is the same principles behind cosmic inflation can be used to move a ship from point A to point B faster than light.

However, there are a whole lot of "catches" to this idea.

About two-years ago, Dr. Harold "Sonny" White of NASA's Johnson Space Center claimed to have made a discovery which made the idea of warp drive "plausible and worth further investigation."

Two-dimensional visualization of the Alcubierre drive, showing the opposing regions of expanding and contracting spacetime that displace the central region.
From NBC News:
For years, Harold "Sonny" White has been delving into the technical details of a concept known as the Alcubierre warp drive as part of his job at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The idea, put forward by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, suggests that faster-than-light travel might be achieved by distorting spacetime in a clever way.

To illustrate his talks, White has drawn upon computer graphics from Mark Rademaker, an artist in the Netherlands whose work is often featured in calendars and other publications related to the Star Trek saga. Rademaker, in turn, incorporates the ideas from White's work into his graphics.

From NASA's Eagleworks Laboratories: Advanced Propulsion Physics Research presentation on Warp Drive.
Since Alcubierre first proposed the idea, there's been many objections and modifications to it, with the latest iterations claiming to substantially bring down the energy requirement. However, the main tenets of the idea have stayed the same. A ship inside a warp bubble would ride the warping of space around it like a surfboard riding a wave. Since the ship is stationary within the bubble, it effectively circumvents Einstein's speed limit and other side effects. There might not be a need for "inertial dampers," no increase in mass and there isn't any time dilation.

But there is a really big catch to this.

The energy requirement has dropped from needing most of the energy in the universe, to the energy of Jupiter and now just the equivalent of the mass of one of the Voyager probes.

However, the biggest issue with warp drive is the type of energy it requires. In order to form the warp field/bubble, a region of space-time with negative energy density (i.e. repulsing space-time) is necessary. Scientific models predict exotic matter with a negative energy may exist, but it has never been observed. All forms of matter and light have a positive energy density, and create an attractive gravitational field.

From Popular Science:

Though no one has ever measured negative energy, quantum mechanics predicts that it exists, and scientists should be able to create it in a lab. One way to generate it would be through the Casimir effect: Two parallel conducting plates, placed very closely together, should create small amounts of negative energy. Where Alcubierre's model broke down is that it required a vast amount of negative energy, orders of magnitude more than most scientists estimate could be produced.

White says he's found a way around that limitation. In a computer simulation, White varied the strength and geometry of a warp field. He determined that, in theory, he could produce a warp bubble using millions of times less negative energy than Alcubierre predicted and perhaps little enough that a space craft could carry the means of producing it. "The findings," he says, "change it from impractical to plausible."

White shows me into the facility and ushers me past its central feature, something he calls a quantum vacuum plasma thruster (QVPT). The device looks like a large red velvet doughnut with wires tightly wound around a core, and it's one of two initiatives Eagleworks is pursuing, along with warp drive. It's also secret. When I ask about it, White tells me he can't disclose anything other than that the technology is further along than warp drive. A 2011 NASA report he wrote says it uses quantum fluctuations in empty space as a fuel source, so that a spaceship propelled by a QVPT would not require propellant ... White's warp experiment is tucked into the back corner of the room. A helium-neon laser is bolted onto a small table pricked with a lattice of holes, along with a beam splitter and a black-and-white commercial CCD camera. This is a White-Juday warp field interferometer, which White named for himself and Richard Juday, a retired JSC employee who is helping White analyze the data from the CCD. Half of the laser light passes through a ring—White's test device. The other half does not. If the ring has no effect, White would expect one type of signal at the CCD. If it warps space, he says "the interference pattern will be starkly different."

When the device is turned on, White's setup looks cinematically perfect: The laser is bright red, and the two beams cross like light sabers. There are four ceramic capacitors made of barium titanate inside the ring, which White charges to 23,000 volts. White has spent the last year and a half designing the experiment, and he says that the capacitors will "establish a very large potential energy." Yet when I ask how it would create the negative energy necessary to warp space-time he becomes evasive. "That gets into . . . I can tell you what I can tell you. I can't tell you what I can't tell you," he says. He explains that he has signed nondisclosure agreements that prevent him from revealing the particulars. I ask with whom he has the agreements. He says, "People come in and want to talk about some things. I just can't go into any more detail than that."

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Comment Preferences

    •  The high point of Persis Khambatta's career... n/t (18+ / 0-)

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:16:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, but this is rubbish (4+ / 0-)

      One reason: The Minkowski geometry of space-time is such that getting from point to point faster than light is geometrically equivalent to traveling backward in time, just as surely as the geometry of the Earth is such that traveling a great distance forward puts you behind where you were.

      If the warp-thing isn’t a machine for traveling backward in time — which would be much more exciting! — then is isn’t a way to get from point to point faster than light. Hand-waving about distorted space time near the vehicle is irrelevant to this fact, and hand-waving with lots of math is equally irrelevant.

      There are many people emotionally and professionally committed to the warp-thing, of course, and they will have something or other to say to muddle the facts.

      Again, sorry.

      •  Um (3+ / 0-)

        Time is relative.

        •  faster than light is still time-travel (0+ / 0-)

          Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

          by terrypinder on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 05:15:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It depends on your definition of time... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sneelock, Horace Boothroyd III

            The concept of time is like the concept of love.  It can be defined in many ways... some romantic and others rather dull.

            One definition of time is merely the measure of motion.  Distance is the cumulative dimensional measurement of 3D space and movement through that space is is measured in time with rate or speed being a derivative of time and distance.  You cannot go "back in distance".  If you walk a mile in one direction and then turn around and walk "back", you have walked two miles.  You didn't go "back in distance" or "unwalk" the first mile.  

            We experience time travel constantly but it is always in one direction because it is simply a measurement.  

            Einstein's time dilation is true because it simply slows motion down (sub-atomically on a quantum level) due to increased mass and decreased depth in the direction of travel as the relative speed increases on an asypotic curve towards the speed of light.  You cannot decrease motion beyond "stop".

            "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

            by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 06:47:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Traveling effectively FTL is only "traveling ba... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, dalef77

        Traveling effectively FTL is only "traveling back in time" from an observational standpoint because you can move to an observational point faster than the photons carrying the visual information of current events. Whatever has happened has already happened much in the same way as when we observe a star go supernova that's millions of light years away, we are observing an event from the past.

        To say if it isn't a time machine then it isn't a way to get from point to point faster than light is absurdly wrong.

        •  No, it's a real effect. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          david78209

          There's an old saying: you can have any two of causality, special relativity, and faster-than-light travel.

          If FTL doesn't cause time travel, special relativity is wrong. But we know from experimentation that as far as we can determine special relativity is right, which means again that as far as we know we can either have causality (ie, no time travel) or FTL. Can't have both.

          Here's why it's a real effect (as I posted here a while back):

          Imagine two guys in spaceships who hate each other's guts. To settle their differences, they decide to have a duel. Each ship is equipped with a tachyon bullet gun, the tachyon bullet instantly traversing any distance to hit its target.

          (Note: the paradox will result with any bullet speed that's faster than light, the zero travel time arrival just makes the math simpler so there's nice round numbers.)

          After preliminary negotiation, the duelists come to an agreement. They will speed toward each other on opposite trajectories and, ten seconds after they pass a small asteroid which is exactly halfway between their starting positions, they can open fire. Since their ships are identical, with identical accelerations, they know it means they will pass by the asteroid (and thus each other) at the exact same time. Their ships' speeds are tremendous, such that, if you were on A's ship looking at B, he'd be traveling so fast that, according to Special Relativity, his clock appears would be running 50% slower than A's. A thinks about this for a minute and realizes that means when his (A's) clock says ten seconds will pass, B's will only say 5 seconds will have passed.

          "Heh heh," A thinks. "Sucks to be him."

          Unknown to A, over on B's ship, B is making the exact same calculation because from his point of view it will be A's clock that will be running 50% slower.

          "Oh well," B thinks, "it's not cheating if he's too dumb to realize this."

          So the duel is on. A and B pass each other. On A's ship he looks at the clock. At 10 seconds he turns on his tachyon scanner (which also works instantaneously), lines up B, and fires. He sees B slump over (slowly, since B's time is running 50% slower) from a wound that will kill him in a few seconds. A looks at B's clock and sees it does in fact say only 5 seconds have passed for B.

          Now let's hop over to B's ship. He's looking at his clock, waiting for the time to pass, when at 5 seconds he feels a sharp pain in his stomach and realizes he's been shot. Confused, he looks at A's ship with his tachyon scanner and sees that, because A's time is running 50% slower from his point of view, only 2.5 seconds have passed on A's ship.

          "Son of bitch fired 7.5 seconds early," B gasps. With his dying breath he takes aim and fires. He's the better shot, and as he dies he's rewarded with seeing A's brains splatter across the control console and up on to A's clock which reads 2.5 seconds.

          So, A is shot and killed before he fires the shot which initiates the exchange. Paradox.

          And all because from A's point of view, B's time is running 50% slower, while from B's point of view it's A's time that's running 50% slower, and they are both right.

          This isn't an optical illusion. This is what would really happen. If you have unrestricted FTL travel, you can arrange a situation where you really do arrive before you left. Or kill the man before he shoots the fatal shot which is killing you.

          •  Show me (0+ / 0-)

            your field data. :)

            I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

            by trumpeter on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:47:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're starting from the wrong understanding (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dalef77

            FTL travel via gravity fields is NOT linear travel. In fact, you aren't even really moving much at all in the traditional sense of covering every inch between two points. Rather it is space itself that is being moved. It's closer to teleporting than traveling.

            Essentially your entire illustration is meaningless in the context of FTL travel.

          •  That's not actually true (0+ / 0-)

            If time travel happens, then there's spacelike trajectories--which is entirely consistent with SR.  Question is whether or not it's consistent with causality.

            But that's a conversation way the hell outside of the physics being discussed here.

        •  Also not true (0+ / 0-)

          At some point of view, given some spacelike translation of info, you're going to clock cause coming before effect.  Easiest way to picture it is an observer at Mars watching an FTL ship departing from Earth transit.  You'll see that ship transit before you see it leave the Earth sphere.  If it's going fast enough, you can conceivably send a reply ship back home before either event happens.

          •  Incorrect (0+ / 0-)

            FTL does not utilize linear travel at all. Period. Any time distortion you would see via a vis high speed linear travel does not apply.

            As I said in another post -- it's closer to teleporting and that's exactly what it would look like to an observer that could see a ship move FTL from point A to point B. There would be no acceleration. Space would be bent such that point A and point B are right next to each other.

            A clumsy illustration would be instead of jumping over the grand canyon, you pull the other side over to yourself and step over and then it snaps back.

            Exactly what this would look like during the space distortion to an observer is unclear. I would randomly guess that the ship would disappear during the event or at least the area around it become so distorted that you could no longer make out the ship.

            •  I have no idea what you're talking about (0+ / 0-)

              but it bears no resemblance to SR.

              As for what you would see, it would appear as if the spaceship suddenly appeared before you and then traveled backwards to its point of origin.  The geometry for this is rather simple.

              •  Depends on your point of observation (0+ / 0-)

                If you are equidistant or behind the midway point from A to B, then my description holds. If you are past the midway point then yours does. Yes, it's a geometrical process.

                Regardless, time is not distorted for either the observer or the traveler. It's just the observation that can be skewed. This is not the same as linear travel where time is distorted BETWEEN the observer and the traveler. This is the realm of SR as it relates to travel.

                To recap:

                Linear travel -- SR time distortion based on the relative speed between the traveler and the observer

                FTL travel -- no time distortion between either, only observational distortion

                •  Do you mean time *dilation*? (0+ / 0-)

                  If so, then I'm not sure why you think there is no time dilation.  Proper time is simply negative and imaginary when reflected into the spacelike region.

                  Yes, there are some frames of reference where A will precede B.  The point is spacelike transits there will always exist at least one frame of reference in which B precedes A.

                  •  Yes. Dilation. (0+ / 0-)

                    I didn't bother looking back up the proper name.

                    In FTL travel, there is no space transit. Space (and effectively time) are bent so that both space and the current time frame of a distant point are brought adjacent to the frame you are in. The result would be essentially instantaneous transit from A to B.

                    Observationally, how the observer perceives what has happened clearly depends on their positional relation to A and B. Midway it appears like teleporting. Closer to A and the shop disappears for a while. Closer to B and the ship is seen in both places at once. In the time frame, the ship never exists in both places at once, but rather goes immediately from one frame to another frame in a different location.

                    I admit that my understanding on that is incomplete. It may well be that the math proves that for a single frame the traveler exists in two places at once.

                    •  Spacelike trajectories still transit spacetime (0+ / 0-)

                      and the transformation of distance and proper time still follows the same equation as for timelike trajectories.   If our ship is luminous enough, you should be able to observe it transit the interval as well.  You'll just have some frames of references where A and B occur simultaneously or B precedes A.

      •  Perhaps so, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Evildad

        ... every resource invested in the pursuit of this project is one that is NOT invested in blowing shit up -- or at least not blowing ourselves up.

        At least give them credit for exploring research that has the potential to be constructive.

        I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

        by mojo11 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 08:37:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not true, rarely... (0+ / 0-)

        We know that physical phenomena CAN propagate at C+ speeds.  The quantum twinning effect propagates at over 10,000 TIMES C.

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        The really sad part is that even if we had the math and engineering 100% ready to go, we simply don't have the money to waste on the project.

        Too many hungry unfed, sick untreated, homeless unhoused.

        •  IDK. Engineering is usually most of the cost (0+ / 0-)

          After you have the plans in hand, it is usually pretty easy to make spacecraft - and the wonderful thing about 'wasting' money on building spacecraft - the techs who get some of that money as pay, don't just bury it - they spend it ... and that stimulates the economy and provides jobs for college grads.  For that matter - spending money on engineers to do the design work is good, too.

          NASA is a Keynesian stimulator for America's flagging STEM industries.    (Estimates are that every dollar spent on NASA grew the economy by at least $7)

          It's a helluva better way to stimulate tech than the military anyway

          -- illegitimi non carborundum

          by BadBoyScientist on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 08:51:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not really. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rduran

      That design came from a book published a few years before that movie came out.  The artist got the idea from Matt, and then fleshed it out.  And that idea was fleshed out still further to get your first illustration, and then thoroughly re-worked to get the basis for the "NASA" design seen so much lately.

      Fun part is, the artist who designed the "NASA" ship did it for a Trek calendar a few years back, but liked the ship so much he's been monkeying with it and refining it in his free time.  His renders on his fb page are gorgeous, and he says he's not nearly done yet.  His sketches for the bridge interior are also fun and ever-changing.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:45:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When Steven Hawking was a guest on (31+ / 0-)

    Star Trek: TNG, on his tour of the sets as he passed the warp core in engineering he was heard to say

    "I'm working on it"

    "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 Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:17:08 PM PDT

  •  Thanks RJ. (15+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:45:21 PM PDT

  •  I think this age is going to utterly confound (26+ / 0-)

    historians in a thousand years.

    The same people who say we have no money to make millions of lives better and easier can't print money fast enough to set on fire for something like the Iraq War.

    I can't help but wonder if the kids who actually would invent this moped of the gods aren't going to end up babysitting a fleet of roombas sweeping the floors at whatever replaces WalMart in the future because it was just too much to ask of the Koch Brothers to pay a smidge more so that one of the potential saviors of the species could go to college, or have enough to eat, or access to affordable healthcare so that the brightest of the lot doesn't die because she got hit by a car when she was seven.

    An age of Great Wonder and Great Myopia.

    "Real journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations." -George Orwell

    by LeftHandedMan on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:08:57 PM PDT

    •  I also think its kinda funny as hell (11+ / 0-)

      that a lot of the concept space ships for the future have back around to looking like 50's and 60's 'Things to Come' illustrations.

      Maybe we should just make Boeing build whatever they think is the most looking awesome craft or station from Stanley Kubrick's film of 2001.

      "Real journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations." -George Orwell

      by LeftHandedMan on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:12:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Seriously. Just make the thing in orbit, and... (8+ / 0-)

        ...then it's there.

        Right there.

        Just needs an engine.

        Gauntlet thrown down.  Somebody would surely bite on it.

        Elon is already in high gear, but maybe he's got another overdrive!  He might see something like that and get it to Mars just because.

        ***Be Excellent To One Another***
        The ACA is all about getting started toward great health care. No turning back. The way forward is through. Every Democrat is married to this law and we all need to work together to make it awesome.

        by potatohead on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:22:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, the looks thing bugs me. (0+ / 0-)

        Why design something streamlined to fly through a vacuum? I'd imagine a sphere, for optimal use of materials, or a needle with a capsule on the end, to get the crew safely away from the drive. Not something designed to cut through atmosphere. Not something with a top and a bottom, when there is either no gravity or you need to spin it.

        The ship design looks as ill thought out as the entire concept of humans leaving Earth - all show and no substance.

        •  Because you are doing outreach with this art (0+ / 0-)

          And many (most) people don't think about the things you are talking about.

          -- illegitimi non carborundum

          by BadBoyScientist on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 08:56:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Like I said, (0+ / 0-)

            all show and no substance.

            •  A nasty way to characterize it (0+ / 0-)

              but if you want to see the world that way - go for it

              -- illegitimi non carborundum

              by BadBoyScientist on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 07:36:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's not the world, (0+ / 0-)

                but this whole ridiculous idea that we are going to fly off to some new planet and humanity will thrive there. Regardless of the physics, it shows a complete lack of understanding of the complexity of the biological systems we require to survive. How are we going to recreate Earth's ecosystems somewhere else? It isn't like we can just bring a few hundred, or a few thousand, organisms and we will be fine.

                The whole "new frontier" line of thinking is dangerous. It leads people to believe that we don't have to take care of the only planet humans will ever have, because when we destroy this one we can just go somewhere else. And some pretty picture of a fantasy spaceship that doesn't even take into account basic realities like the lack of gravity and atmosphere in space just re-enforces this magical thinking that we can, and will, thrive somewhere else when we need to be fully focused on saving humanity in the real world.

                •  Sigh. (0+ / 0-)

                  All of us are living in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars....  And dangerous ideas are some of the best to introduce in a classroom.

                  When I talk about terraforming in my classes (and I'm giving that lecture tomorrow!) I use it to illustrate the enormous complexities involved in planetary engineering and ecopoiesis - and our need to rise above our 'complete lack of understanding' of these things.  [To think 150 years ago there was a complete lack of understanding of aerodynamics and now we're sending probes throughout our solar system]

                  We address most of your concerns ... e.g. coping with the absence of atmosphere in space isn't a big deal as long as you keep the doors and windows closed on your space ship (btw: submarines use the same technique to avoid the abundance of H2O outside them - see we can leverage this knowledge to various realms!)

                  And, by the end of my classes most students realize that if you have warpdrive you also have artificial gravity (I'll leave that as an exercise for the student).

                  Maybe if you read what educated people are saying about space travel and terraforming you wouldn't be concerned about things like the emptiness of space (and you may be concerned by the nasty radiation in space, instead).

                  Or you can continue to cluck your tongue at all of this tomfoolery ...

                  -- illegitimi non carborundum

                  by BadBoyScientist on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:38:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If the teacher were paying attention (0+ / 0-)

                    perhaps he would have noticed that my reference to the lack of atmosphere in space was in the context of the absurd representation of a spaceship in the diary - a spaceship where a lot of materials and effort were devoted to making it STREAMLINED.

                    Almost anything can be made to sound ignorant when taken out of context. Perhaps you would like to address my mention on the lack of atmosphere in the context of the design of the spaceship presented to us in the diary? Any idiot knows you can keep atmosphere inside a spaceship with an intact hull and sealed hatches.

                    And by the way, your "gutter" is my paradise. If you think we can find or create anything even close to Earth in habitability for humans, let alone sheer beauty and wonder, you really are living in fantasy land.

      •  That's because (0+ / 0-)

        a lot of the concept art came from people who had been designing the real thing for years. It was generally on the edge of possible.

        Today's art directors have little, if any, experience in the real world,and have never built anything functional.  That's why their designs are like a Jar-Jar Abrams movie - flashy and spiffy, but all surface with nothing real to back them up.

        I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

        by trumpeter on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:53:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, what a great comment (7+ / 0-)

      Lefthandedman!  
      I think the same way. What if instead of spending all that money on wars and destruction, we had spent it on peace and exploration?  
      Kind of like the dark ages, when so much was lost.
      Could we be exploring more of our solar system then the moon and just probes.
      I am a Trekkie and love the idea that the human race decided to quit destroying lives and our planet, and instead going where no man has gone before.
      There was an episode on TNG , where they found people from the 21st century who were still stuck on money.
      Also a huge stargate fan.
      Thanks for the diary, Doctor!  

      "Americans don't understand that terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, or the Constitution. Terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism."

      by snoopydawg on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:59:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  LeftHandedMan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftHandedMan, GreyHawk

      For a LeftHandedMan I`d be proud to be your right hand man.
      Beautiful thoughts.

      I`m already against the next war.

      by Knucklehead on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:12:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  beautifully said. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftHandedMan

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:32:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No more than the Renaissance confounds us now (5+ / 0-)

      We remember the pretty art and the advances that Da Vinci made but we forget the brutal wars and poverty of peasants. Myopia is one of the constants throughout history and throughout the world, it is easily forgotten by future generations.

      We'll be seen just as the founding fathers who owned slaves are seen. Some of us will be valorized and some will be forgotten.

      No War but Class War

      by AoT on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:04:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The three classic answers to the question why (19+ / 0-)

    if intelligent life on Earth is not unique, nobody out there has bothered to get in touch with us:

    1. Interstellar travel is a huge technological challenge. Presently, we don't even have a theoretical solution, let alone an engineering one.

    2. Intelligent life isn't necessarily all that intelligent. As civilizations become technologically more advanced, they become ever more likely to find clever ways to trigger their own demise. Unfortunately, we're currently on track to proving this hypothesis :-(

    3. A species that manages to overcome #1 and #2 might consider it reckless to throw other species into that pool by revealing themselves -> Star Trek's Prime Directive. Or perhaps they simply consider it to their own disadvantage to do so.

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:25:46 PM PDT

    •  A fourth scenario: "they" did try to get in touch (18+ / 0-)

      and we didn't get it. That's the Douglas Adams scenario. In fact, knowing us, we probably managed to kill them. Which in turn helps motivate #3 above.

      "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

      by brainwave on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:27:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sometimes I imagine aliens (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Gwennedd, brainwave, dalef77

        Watching us on their TVs like a reality show, and laughing their grey asses off at what the human race is doing to each other and their planet.
        With all the things we are doing to ourselves, maybe they decided their is intelligent life on earth, so why bother to get in touch with us.
        Other days, I imagine the Vulcans or some other race coming to help us from destroying pur only home.
        :).

        "Americans don't understand that terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, or the Constitution. Terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism."

        by snoopydawg on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:15:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Okay...you're as bad as me. I'm a Trekkie too, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, snoopydawg, trumpeter, dalef77

          and Stargate fan..."Vulcans".."grey asses". I loved Roddenberry's vision of the future and wish we could achieve that level of maturity.

          Looking at ourselves today I don't see it happening for a very long time, provided we survive the coming climate crisis. We may...humans are a determined and inventive species.

          A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

          by Gwennedd on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:51:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  a fifth scenario: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Gwennedd, blackhand, dalef77

        They use a method of communication we can't presently detect.

        Interstellar laser is an obvious one for reasons of efficiency of signal transmission & reception.  

        New physics may demonstrate other things to be possible that we won't think of until we have a theoretical basis for them.

        I'm inclined to believe that there will eventually be means of instantaneous communication using entanglement with enormously-redundant systems and linked error-correction, but this is wild crazy fringe stuff and outside the boundaries of mainstream science.

        In any case, once we figure out what it is that "they" are using, we're going to start finding a decent number of "them" out there.

        First item on the agenda: learn their math.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:37:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If they have this sort of technology (6+ / 0-)

          then they might be sending FTL messages through spacetime ripples. I don't even know if we could read those at this point.

          No War but Class War

          by AoT on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:21:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Or how about even using the sun's gravity (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, blackhand

          as a giant antenna (by putting the transmitter the right distance away from the sun, which is about 550 AU for ours) thus making their signals too weak to receive unless we had a similar setup in just the right place?  Light is light, so it should work just fine for radio waves as it would to create the biggest telescope ever.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:38:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I once read a in a Star Trek book where (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, dalef77

          One of the side plots was about a race that was pretty much on par with our technology today, except for the fact that they discovered the concept of dilithium which was described as being like ordinary quartz except that it had properties that made it sensitive to space-time distortions.  They then made transistors, or rather as the book called them transtators out of it and this allowed them to decode and listen in on subspace (warp / FTL) communications and as a result they jumped by leaps and bounds in technology.  I can't recall if they annihilated themselves in war or they attracted the interests of the Borg as a result and got wiped out as a result of their premature progress.

          "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

          by blackhand on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 06:50:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And a sixth (5+ / 0-)
          "There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!" - Agent K

          I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

          by mojo11 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 08:33:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh. Recced for the MIB ref. (0+ / 0-)

            That movie had me in stitches.

            If we acknowledge our fears, then we must also acknowledge the consequences of our actions when we react to those fears. Hate is based on fear, fear comes from a lack of understanding. When you understand, it is more difficult to hate.

            by TheProgressiveAlien on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:09:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You mean those two mice I trapped last night... (6+ / 0-)

        really were projections of hyper-dimensional super intelligent beings working on a super computing project to find the ultimate question? I blew it.

        Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

        by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 06:04:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wanted to rec for the Hitchhiker's guide ref... (0+ / 0-)

          ...but the window had closed.  Bummer.  Oh well, always know where your towel is.  :-)

          If we acknowledge our fears, then we must also acknowledge the consequences of our actions when we react to those fears. Hate is based on fear, fear comes from a lack of understanding. When you understand, it is more difficult to hate.

          by TheProgressiveAlien on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:11:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Communication (15+ / 0-)

      If I remember correctly, while we've been broadcasting signals out into space for almost a century, they're diffuse and not targeted at any particular star system. The signal degradation would mean that any alien civilization would need to have sophisticated equipment to detect them and get coherent audio or video. And since we've been transitioning from analog to digital, the digital signals are even more unlikely to be picked up by aliens.

      Also, there's the question whether or not we would understand each other? Aboard both Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 (launched in 1972 and 1973), there are 6-inch by 9-inch gold anodized aluminum plaques attached to antenna support struts, which would reveal to anyone who found 'em the location of Earth and the existence of humanity.

      One of the parts of the diagram that is among the easiest for humans to understand may be among the hardest for the extraterrestrial finders to understand: the arrow showing the trajectory of Pioneer. An article in Scientific American criticized the use of an arrow because arrows are an artifact of hunter-gatherer societies like those on Earth; finders with a different cultural heritage may find the arrow symbol meaningless.
      A major theme of Stanislaw Lem's work is communication and understanding.
      • In "Fiasco," attempts to establish contact with an alien civilization end in disaster when humanity fundamentally misunderstands why the Aliens don't respond.
      • In "His Master's Voice," all attempts to understand a suspected alien message to humanity fail. The novel is not as much about aliens, but examining the perspectives of humanity and what each character believes the message to be.
      • I always thought "Solaris" had the most intriguing question. If we have problems communicating with each other as humans, or coming to terms with our own internal feelings, how do we expect to talk to and understand something alien?
      •  That diagram always pissed me off (9+ / 0-)

        because of the way it showed the male figure in the dominant position, arm raised and speaking, while the female demurely struck a ballet pose.

        Of course, there's no way of knowing if the alien civilizations share our primitive gender biases ;)

        Oh btw - it seems like they could have worked a Fibonacci series in there, somewhere, also too.

        "I don't love writing, but I love having written" ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

        by jan4insight on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:13:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Female Figure Lacks Genitalia Too (17+ / 0-)

          Here's Carl Sagan's answer to some of the critiques:

          The original drawings of this couple were made by my wife and were based upon the classical models of Greek sculpture and the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. We do not think this man and woman are ignoring each other. They are not shown holding hands lest the extraterrestrial recipients believe that the couple is one organism joined at the fingertips. (In the absence of indigenous horses, both the Aztecs and the Incas interpreted the mounted conquistador as one animal - a kind of two-headed centaur.) The man and woman are not shown in precisely the same position or carriage so that the suppleness of the limbs could be communicated - although we well understand that the conventions of perspective and line drawing popular on Earth may not be readily apparent to civilizations with other artistic conventions.

          The man's right hand is raised in what I once read in an anthropology book is a "universal" sign of good will - although any literal universality is of course unlikely. At least the greeting displays our opposable thumbs. Only one of the two people is shown with hand raised in greeting, lest the recipients deduce erroneously that one of our arms is bent permanently at the elbow.

          Several women correspondents complain that the woman appears too passive. One writes that she also wishes to greet the universe, with both arms outstretched in womanly salutation. The principal feminine criticism is that the woman is drawn incomplete - that is, without any hint of external genitalia. The decision to omit a very short line in this diagram was made partly because conventional representation in Greek Statuary omits it. But there was another reason: Our desire to see the message successfully launched on Pioneer 10. In retrospect, we may have judged NASA's scientific-political hierarchy as more puritanical than it is. In the many discussions that I held with such officials, up to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the President's Science Adviser, not one Victorian demurrer was ever voiced; and a great deal of helpful encouragement was given.

          •  Thanks for filling in the backstory (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Doctor RJ, snoopydawg, G2geek, AoT, KiB

            It still pisses me off, though ;)

            "I don't love writing, but I love having written" ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

            by jan4insight on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:27:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Doctor RJ (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Doctor RJ

            I`m glad you posted his answer.
            For those who question the elements of the message, are there any other ones that were proposed, or do you think those who are displeased should proffer their version now?
            If a slightly different version were to now be sent out concerning those not pleased with the lack of female genitalia, the message might end up as a confusing one since the discoverers may not have any gender conflicts & wonder why the discrepancy from one message to the other.

            Can`t the message just be the message & let the discoverers figure out through reverse engineering the message, how conflicted gender identity was 14 million years ago when they get the message.

            Great diary.
            I love having my mind warped, at least a little.

            I`m already against the next war.

            by Knucklehead on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:35:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  However, its a big hit on Planet of the Barbies n/ (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Doctor RJ
      •  Yah, especially when the aliens bore us to death (0+ / 0-)

        Or maybe it just takes Russian-grade patience—make them the ambassadors? Heh...

         The vision and story behind Solaris was amazing, but man, it could've been half as long and made for a much better experience.

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

        by Simplify on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:11:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What if that wave just happens (0+ / 0-)

        to be, in the culture of aliens who may find it, the most offensive possible gesture? Or alternately, it could me, come and eat us, we are delicious.

        Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

        by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 06:08:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

          In the early days of web-cams and live-streaming, I had a silly and put on this monster mask I'd made of latex and hair and stuck my mug into the camera's view. I held a little sign: "Come to our planet. We need fresh meat!"  My friends thought I was truly warped for that.

          Now, it's strikes me as eerily prophetic: if we don't get a handle on our Climate Change problems and wealth/food distribution issues, we may well starve ourselves out of the galactic intelligent-species pool.

          Or worse, we DO get off the planet... as interstellar raiders pillaging other worlds for their resources.

          If we acknowledge our fears, then we must also acknowledge the consequences of our actions when we react to those fears. Hate is based on fear, fear comes from a lack of understanding. When you understand, it is more difficult to hate.

          by TheProgressiveAlien on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:20:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Send more Chuck Berry! n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BadBoyScientist
    •  there's intelligent life (9+ / 0-)

      on earth?

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:53:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, but you can bet there are... (10+ / 0-)

        ...warning buoys out around the heliopause, telling real intelligent beings to steer clear of the third planet!

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:58:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yeah really. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, Gwennedd, upstatefrantic, JeffW, miango113

          "If the humans succeed in achieving colonization of their fourth planet, Council recommends stationing military platforms at the edge of their star system to warn of any objects exiting the system.  If necessary we will mark the entire system as hazardous to discourage casual contact.  Please keep us informed of any relevant developments."

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:04:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well they will be colonizing in 10 years.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JeffW, G2geek

            or at least that's the plan

            http://www.mars-one.com

            A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

            by Gwennedd on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 02:46:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i've heard of them... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gwennedd

              ... from what i've read so far, "ten years" sounds aspirational rather than practical.  

              OTOH, "just say SpaceX."  

              For all of our criticism of the .0001%, there's always Elon Musk and Bill & Melinda Gates to restore our faith in humanity.

              If Musk can get the contracts for carrying humans to/from the ISS, then a) we won't have to depend on the sturdy but politically uncomfortable Soyuz, and b) Musk will reinvest everything toward his goal of building bigger and bigger rockets.  

              SpaceX will take us to the Moon and then to Mars.  American private enterprise at its world-inspiring very best.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:47:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  That sounds vaguely familiar... (0+ / 0-)

            ...Like I might had read a novel with a plot-theme to that effect.  A kind of solar-system blockade in place to keep us from "infecting" the rest of the galaxy.  :-p

            If we acknowledge our fears, then we must also acknowledge the consequences of our actions when we react to those fears. Hate is based on fear, fear comes from a lack of understanding. When you understand, it is more difficult to hate.

            by TheProgressiveAlien on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:22:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. But not SANE LIFE...LOL (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gwennedd

        Seriously I think any aliens might come to that conclusion. We are very smart, especially since our ancesters at some point were able to come up with abstact thought. That is a pretty impressive acheivement for creatures that were "designed" by evolution to hunt, gather and reproduce.

        To actually understand science and physics when that was not in our "job discription" is pretty amazing.

        But at the same time all you have to do is watch the news to see that as a race we are pretty damn insane. Or go on the Internet since now days anyone can post an opinion no matter how crazy it is.

        Even those of us who consider ourselves fairly sane are mostly neurotic. The technical term is "F-d up."

        There is a quote I read once: "Man is a God that shits."

        Sums it up for me.

        '

        I take the phrase "Bleeding Heart Liberal" as a compliment...

        by Pixie5 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:52:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Working on it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gwennedd

        Give us another million years or so..

        I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

        by trumpeter on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:10:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or # 5...they really have been checking us out (7+ / 0-)

      for years and are shaking their heads, waiting to see if we can get ourselves together collectively and survive a demise of our own making and evolve.

      A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

      by Gwennedd on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:17:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  occasional fly-bys using robotic probes... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gwennedd

        ... buzzing through our solar system.  If they detect artificial light on the dark side of Earth, they report back that there is a technologically capable civilization.  If they detect radio frequency signals, they relay them back home for analysis.

        A probe object could be designed to fly an orbit around the sun that takes it across the orbital paths of all planets over an extended period of time.  If it intersects any given planet's orbit closely enough to get a view of the planet and its RF signature, once every few hundred years per planet, that would be more than sufficient.  In which case it may not get close enough to Earth to spot anything interesting for a few hundred more years.

        And of course any such object would not be easily detected by us.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:15:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  yes we do. (6+ / 0-)

      1)  Theoretical basis for interstellar travel:  Fusion propulsion of large colony ships at 10% of c, with many-generational missions (thousands of years).  Each ship would carry a sufficient quantity of humans to enable reproduction without inbreeding (2,000 - 3,000 humans each).  

      None of this violates present science, though it calls for technology beyond our present levels in three areas: 1) controlled fusion, 2) high-tech objects with long lifespans, and 3) self-contained stable artificial ecosystems.  None of these are a-priori impossible under current scientific consensus, though taken together they will add up to the largest engineering project ever undertaken by human society.

      2)  Humans have built-in self sabotage programs, such as "the instincts for increase" and "the desire to dominate," but these could be damped-down via cultural feedbacks, much as they are presently amplified by cultural feedbacks.  At present we have not truly "done the experiment" of creating a culture that attempts to achieve those goals, but doing so is not ruled out by present scientific consensus.

      3)  Alternately, a species that succeeds at developing interstellar civ may be sufficiently busy with tasks toward that goal, that it does not bother to reach out to others intentionally, and remains undetected.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:59:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, #1 can be made to work. [n/t] (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        Feasible forms of slower-than-light travel could get terrestrial life across the galaxy in less time than it took us to get from  hand-axes to the Iron Age.

      •  Hollowed-out asteroids with fusion drives... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        ...combined with gentech breakthroughs to extend human lifespans to hundreds of years, plus terraforming methods perfected on Mars.

        That's how Kim Stanley Robinson imagined one-way, inter-stellar colonization missions in his Mars Trilogy.

        He assumed great leaps in nuclear energy, materials engineering, AI, robotics and medicine... but no FTL was necessary.

        “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
        he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

        by jjohnjj on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:30:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes & yes, except... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gwennedd, peregrine kate

          I think the best we're going to do with life extension is somewhere in the range of 120 years.  More than that is wishful thinking w/o solid science behind it (and fringe science does not qualify there).

          Mars colonization will be one-way, but the missions leading up to that will be go-and-return until the infrastructure is in place to support permanent colonists.  

          All of which depends absolutely on us achieving sustainability here on Earth, so we have the future ahead of us to start on interplanetary and then interstellar projects.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:42:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Ah, the Fermi Paradox. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrTerwilliker, Gwennedd

      While I find XKCD's solution the most amusing, I think it's actually very similar. Just like all evidence suggests, the speed of light is an absolute speed (as you accelerate toward C, getting closer and closer, your kinetic energy continues to rise; travel at C would take infinite energy). If C is a hard limit, and it's very hard to even get close, you don't need to argue that there's no intelligent life anywhere, just no intelligent life close enough and evolved early enough to reach us. In fact, due to dark energy, most of the universe is physically unreachable to us, ever, no matter how close to C we travel. This solution to Fermi's paradox states that there could be countless civilizations out there - the laws of physics just prevent them from reaching us.*

      As for the Alcubierre Drive, the diarist omitted the *actual reason why you can't build one: it requires particles that don't exist. To build an Alcubierre Drive you have to have exotic matter, such as particles with negative mass/energy. There's absolutely no evidence that such particles exist, and there's all sorts of massive problems preventing them from existing. For example, an Alcubierre Drive would also be a time machine, but the chronology protection conjecture excludes that (the energy density at the event horizon would be infinite). Particles of negative mass would do all sorts of nonsensical things that we never see. For example, if you have a negative-mass particle sitting next to its equivalent positive mass particle, both of them will suddenly take off, accelerating to velocity C and reaching infinite energy, with no external input (the two particles attract each other, but the negative mass particle experiences a negative acceleration due to f=ma with a negative m). A gas of mixed positive and negative mass particles would reach infinite temperature. And so forth. These are things that would be Very Obvious(TM) if they occurred anywhere in the universe!

      * - There's this notion that, given enough time, science can do anything. But that's simply not the case. Physics doesn't work by wishful thinking, it works by laws. We can discover these laws, we can find out the maximum extent of what is possible within these laws, but ultimately, whatever they are is whatever they are. Wanting to be able to travel faster than C doesn't make it possible. One thing that I find sad about the universe is the fact that there may even be things that are unknowable. We may some day get to the point where we've probed as much about the workings of the universe that is physically possible to probe, and we've got all these precise rules about how the universe works, what it allows, what it doesn't... but no real explanation as to why they are what they are, and no way to probe any deeper. It is possible that we could have a future of billions of years ahead of us and *never have a satisfying explanation, for example, why the fine structure constant is what it is (at least, nothing better than the Anthropic principle - or, for the religious-minded, "God Did It").

      I really hope that's not the case. I really, really hope that our future is to understand precisely everything about how the universe works and why. But it is a  possibility that there are things that we may never be able to know.

      The day I'll consider justice blind is the day that a rape defendant's claim of "She consented to the sex" is treated by the same legal standards as a robbery defendant's claim of "He consented to give me the money": as an affirmative defense.

      by Rei on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 03:41:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Úpps, sorry for the formatting. (0+ / 0-)

        I forgot how Daily Kos mangles things with asterisks!

        The day I'll consider justice blind is the day that a rape defendant's claim of "She consented to the sex" is treated by the same legal standards as a robbery defendant's claim of "He consented to give me the money": as an affirmative defense.

        by Rei on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 03:43:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tx for that. It deserved more recs (0+ / 0-)

        But then again, its not as nearly much fun as believing NASA's successor will be building the ENTERPRISE in 100 years.

    •  We have been (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gwennedd, dalef77

      capable of receiving, much less understanding, the kind of contact that would be most likely for less than 100 years.  That would be something like a phone call.  Maybe we were just not home when they last called.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:02:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ah. The Fermi Paradox (0+ / 0-)

      Of course, in light of SETI's decades long survey we should be asking "If the Milky Way is teeming with intelligence why haven't we detected any of them?"

      If the optimistic estimates for the Drake Equation were correct we should have stumbled across signals from one of the hundreds of thousands of civilizations long ago.   We'd likely have discovered one accidentally as we did with the Cosmic Microwave Background.

      -- illegitimi non carborundum

      by BadBoyScientist on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:01:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  in the 23rd century (11+ / 0-)

    no one will care about split infinitives.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:52:58 PM PDT

  •  Rather than propel a vehicle ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify

    at the speed of light, wouldn't it be easier just to become the light, and catch a free ride at the speed of light?


    How do you tell your pet slug that you had escargot for dinner?

    by glb3 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:54:31 AM PDT

  •  "The stars are matter, ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Box of Rain, Gwennedd

    we're matter, but it doesn't matter. "- Captain Beefheart

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 05:14:03 AM PDT

  •  I'm disappointed this keeps getting encouraged (3+ / 0-)

    when Harold White's experiments haven't borne ANYTHING. I'm just glad they're really cheap experiments or NASA woulda axed it ages ago.

    creating the bubble likely isn't even possible. Or, what rarely comments said just under your tipjar.

    GOSH I want this to be real SO BAD IT ALMOST HURTS. But it's not real and it's not ever going to be real.

    Causality is kind of a big deal.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 05:14:52 AM PDT

  •  OMG TY DR RJ!!! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm mad at all of my friends online for not sending me the lecture from Space Vision.

    Thanks for posting that, and this diary.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

    by OllieGarkey on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 07:10:55 AM PDT

  •  Just needs more Cold Fusion. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder

    Or cowbell.

    But the best part is sterilizing the star system that you arrive in with all of the trapped radiation that you encounter along the way.

    This is SOOOOO not ever going to work.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 07:24:34 AM PDT

  •  we want to "to boldly go. . ." (0+ / 0-)


    And they want to drag us back into the dark ages.  

    We were bequeathed a dream and a vision of a glorious future.  Our present has become a nightmare of environmental and cultural degradation in the name of profit and even less savory motives.  

    I'm rooting for the scientists who are pursuing this.   The technological hurdles are immense and complex, but look where we started.

    "History is made at night. Character is what you are in the dark."

    by upstatefrantic on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:20:37 AM PDT

  •  This diary is both more informative (0+ / 0-)

    and more optimistic than the one on the same subject that came out this morning.  Well done!

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:29:31 AM PDT

  •  I'm still holding out for the "Alderson Drive"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheProgressiveAlien

    ...which assumes that the spacetime distortions already exist in nature as wormholes. We're just going to need some very capable interplanetary vehicles to go out and find them.

    (It would be good if we discovered this before the Moties do.)

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:39:41 AM PDT

    •  Recced for 'Mote In God'd Eye' ref! (0+ / 0-)

      I loved those books.  The concept of a species so old that it builds contingency plans for the collapse of it's civilizations by leaving artefacts for the next 'generation' to learn from fascinated me.  A species so ancient that they'd evolved into differentiated breeds that accomplished individuals mated together for better workers or more specialized people for needed tasks.

      Having an impossible-to-ignore breeding imperative and replacement-rate helps, I suppose.

      I seem to remember the Moties had tried a number of methods of birth-control, but none worked, so they were stuck with an ever-expanding population that they'd routinely 'purge' to keep things stable.  In other words, infanticide became a necessary practice for whole-group survival.  Imagine what we'd be like if we couldn't control our breeding... ever.  Assuming, of course, that we survived as long as the Moties did.

      If we acknowledge our fears, then we must also acknowledge the consequences of our actions when we react to those fears. Hate is based on fear, fear comes from a lack of understanding. When you understand, it is more difficult to hate.

      by TheProgressiveAlien on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:39:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone else look at that picture and... (0+ / 0-)

    think the part in the middle sorta looked like a penis?

  •  If they're funding this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheProgressiveAlien

    ... it's because the Plutocrats want to leave the planet after they've wrecked it, or so they can send us socialists to a prison colony.

    I oppose allowing that to happen.  We've got problems on earth that need to be solved... like rampant corruption, pollution, and a maladaptive culture of consumption and extraction.

    •  I had a similar thought, being cynical... (0+ / 0-)

      ...programs like this only happen for two reasons: they need it for their next war, or they need it for themselves.

      Personally, I don't want only the 'rats' that flee our Earth-ship having the opportunity to explore the great unknown (no offense to actual rats, who are bright little spots of happy in my world) and leaving the rest of us to die in their wastes.

      If we acknowledge our fears, then we must also acknowledge the consequences of our actions when we react to those fears. Hate is based on fear, fear comes from a lack of understanding. When you understand, it is more difficult to hate.

      by TheProgressiveAlien on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:42:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A fan on a sailboat in a bottle (0+ / 0-)

    Basically you are creating a gravity well. So the straight line path becomes a curve and the curved path becomes a straight line. So now, assuming you can make that warp stay put while you move across it with the thing that is causing it, when you move along that straight path to take advantage of the short cut, you are going to experience acceleration, through the change in direction, which is the killer (general relativity). Time slows down for you but not for the outside, boom, twin paradox. Your 2 week trip to Alpha Centauri just took your bother 40 years. Assuming you survive the G-forces.

  •  Damn the Theory, Mr. Scott! Give me Warp 10, Now! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheProgressiveAlien

    "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -- Albert Einstein, physicist.

  •  I like it, but,,, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dalef77

    where do you mount the phasers and photon torpedoes?

  •  The warp and woof of space travel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheProgressiveAlien

    When Zefram Cochrane is born, grows up and gets this all sorted out, THEN we'll have warp drive.

  •  If warp drive (0+ / 0-)

    becomes possible and we can easily travel to earthlike planets we could put all lunatics on one planet. Politicians, lawyers, bank execs, corporate execs, wall street traders, lobbyists, and the filthy rich all on a hell like planet and those of us willing to work together on a nice, beautiful planet. Oh wishful thinking. Seriously, I hope they can do it.

  •  Why do we still pay these people... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    loco moco

    ...to do such obscure work. Who gives a turd if we can travel faster than the speed of light. We are not that important that we need to travel further than the supermarket to buy our next meal and hopefully get it at half price so we can pay our nest Comcast bill. It's ridiculous.

  •  Poor functional design (0+ / 0-)

    It should resemble nothing so much as a '59 Caddy.  Plenty of room in the trunk to store your warp drive fuel and a couple of golf bags to boot!  You won't have to worry about 8 mpg since this baby will run on quantum froth.  And those red velvet donut thrusters be a fabuloso match for the fuzzy dice and dingleball fringe.

  •  When they build this thing (0+ / 0-)

    I hope it is big enough to carry all the Republicans on the planet, and I hope its first one-way trip is to the edge of the universe.

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