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#1 Jan 09 2013 at 12:01 AM Rating: Excellent
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You may have seen the articles today about the latest estimates of earth sized planets in our galaxy at 17 billion. I dig this stuff. I really do. In following one of the links, I stumbled on an old article on Gizmodo from back in September, and I don't know how I missed it back then.

http://gizmodo.com/5942634/nasa-starts-development-of-real-life-star-trek-warp-drive

Quote:
"Perhaps a Star Trek experience within our lifetime is not such a remote possibility." These are the words of Dr. Harold "Sonny" White, the Advanced Propulsion Theme Lead for the NASA Engineering Directorate. Dr. White and his colleagues don't just believe a real life warp drive is theoretically possible; they've already started the work to create one.


Quote:
Working at NASA Eagleworks—a skunkworks operation deep at NASA's Johnson Space Center—Dr. White's team is trying to find proof of those loopholes. They have "initiated an interferometer test bed that will try to generate and detect a microscopic instance of a little warp bubble" using an instrument called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer.


Quote:
There was only one problem with all this: where does the energy come from? While we knew that warp drives were theoretically possible, physicists have always argued that they would require a ball of exotic matter the size of Jupiter to power it. Clearly, that was not practical. But thankfully, Dr. White has found a solution that changes the game completely.

The Eagleworks team has discovered that the energy requirements are much lower than previously thought. If they optimize the warp bubble thickness and "oscillate its intensity to reduce the stiffness of space time," they would be able to reduce the amount of fuel to manageable amount: instead of a Jupiter-sized ball of exotic matter, you will only need 500 kilograms to "send a 10-meter bubble (32.8 feet) at an effective velocity of 10c."


Wow. I've read lots of theories and speculation regarding warp engines and such, but it's all mostly sci-fi. It's interesting to know that the math is already being figured out and there are people actively working on the technology. It's staggering, to me, to think that perhaps in 20 years, we'll be able to travel to Alpha Centauri and and beyond in months, or even a few mere weeks. If you ask me, more funding should be directed at this type of research, rather than building more interplanetary robots. If FTL is possible, and we can figure it out... the implications are amazing.
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#2 Jan 09 2013 at 1:34 AM Rating: Good
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BrownDuck wrote:
Wow. I've read lots of theories and speculation regarding warp engines and such, but it's all mostly sci-fi. It's interesting to know that the math is already being figured out and there are people actively working on the technology. It's staggering, to me, to think that perhaps in 20 years, we'll be able to travel to Alpha Centauri and and beyond in months, or even a few mere weeks. If you ask me, more funding should be directed at this type of research, rather than building more interplanetary robots. If FTL is possible, and we can figure it out... the implications are amazing.

While I agree to some extent, I'm not so sure 20 years is a good timetable. Figuring out how to create a warp bubble is one thing. Figuring out how to generate the power you'd need to do so at a practical level is quite another.
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#3 Jan 09 2013 at 9:38 AM Rating: Good
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The One and Only Poldaran wrote:
BrownDuck wrote:
Wow. I've read lots of theories and speculation regarding warp engines and such, but it's all mostly sci-fi. It's interesting to know that the math is already being figured out and there are people actively working on the technology. It's staggering, to me, to think that perhaps in 20 years, we'll be able to travel to Alpha Centauri and and beyond in months, or even a few mere weeks. If you ask me, more funding should be directed at this type of research, rather than building more interplanetary robots. If FTL is possible, and we can figure it out... the implications are amazing.

While I agree to some extent, I'm not so sure 20 years is a good timetable. Figuring out how to create a warp bubble is one thing. Figuring out how to generate the power you'd need to do so at a practical level is quite another.


Further down in the article:

Quote:
The energy problem, solved

There was only one problem with all this: where does the energy come from? While we knew that warp drives were theoretically possible, physicists have always argued that they would require a ball of exotic matter the size of Jupiter to power it. Clearly, that was not practical. But thankfully, Dr. White has found a solution that changes the game completely.

The Eagleworks team has discovered that the energy requirements are much lower than previously thought. If they optimize the warp bubble thickness and "oscillate its intensity to reduce the stiffness of space time," they would be able to reduce the amount of fuel to manageable amount: instead of a Jupiter-sized ball of exotic matter, you will only need 500 kilograms to "send a 10-meter bubble (32.8 feet) at an effective velocity of 10c."


I am also very excited about this, though I cannot help but feel there will be unexpected results. What they are doing sounds more like inter-dimensional travel with the *side effect* of traveling long distances in our own.
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#4 Jan 09 2013 at 10:03 AM Rating: Decent
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The One and Only Poldaran wrote:
BrownDuck wrote:
Wow. I've read lots of theories and speculation regarding warp engines and such, but it's all mostly sci-fi. It's interesting to know that the math is already being figured out and there are people actively working on the technology. It's staggering, to me, to think that perhaps in 20 years, we'll be able to travel to Alpha Centauri and and beyond in months, or even a few mere weeks. If you ask me, more funding should be directed at this type of research, rather than building more interplanetary robots. If FTL is possible, and we can figure it out... the implications are amazing.

While I agree to some extent, I'm not so sure 20 years is a good timetable. Figuring out how to create a warp bubble is one thing. Figuring out how to generate the power you'd need to do so at a practical level is quite another.

Sure, 20 is overly optimistic and quite arbitrary. But then, I have to tell myself that this **** will be possible while I'm still young enough to enjoy it, or the fantasy loses some of its luster.
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#5 Jan 09 2013 at 10:33 AM Rating: Good
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Kuwoobie wrote:
Quote:
The energy problem, solved

There was only one problem with all this: where does the energy come from? While we knew that warp drives were theoretically possible, physicists have always argued that they would require a ball of exotic matter the size of Jupiter to power it. Clearly, that was not practical. But thankfully, Dr. White has found a solution that changes the game completely.

The Eagleworks team has discovered that the energy requirements are much lower than previously thought. If they optimize the warp bubble thickness and "oscillate its intensity to reduce the stiffness of space time," they would be able to reduce the amount of fuel to manageable amount: instead of a Jupiter-sized ball of exotic matter, you will only need 500 kilograms to "send a 10-meter bubble (32.8 feet) at an effective velocity of 10c."
While that's all well and good, where does this "exotic matter" come from? Can we manufacture the 500 kilograms needed?

BrownDuck wrote:
The One and Only Poldaran wrote:
BrownDuck wrote:
Wow. I've read lots of theories and speculation regarding warp engines and such, but it's all mostly sci-fi. It's interesting to know that the math is already being figured out and there are people actively working on the technology. It's staggering, to me, to think that perhaps in 20 years, we'll be able to travel to Alpha Centauri and and beyond in months, or even a few mere weeks. If you ask me, more funding should be directed at this type of research, rather than building more interplanetary robots. If FTL is possible, and we can figure it out... the implications are amazing.

While I agree to some extent, I'm not so sure 20 years is a good timetable. Figuring out how to create a warp bubble is one thing. Figuring out how to generate the power you'd need to do so at a practical level is quite another.

Sure, 20 is overly optimistic and quite arbitrary. But then, I have to tell myself that this sh*t will be possible while I'm still young enough to enjoy it, or the fantasy loses some of its luster.
I feel the same way about fusion power. Based on the designs they were talking about on a special once, I suspect all that's really stopping us is lack of relatively high temp superconductors, but who can say when we'll figure that one out? Still hope it's in the next 15-20 years.
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#6 Jan 09 2013 at 10:42 AM Rating: Good
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Mr. Fusion go.
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#7 Jan 09 2013 at 12:43 PM Rating: Decent
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Neat stuff but have they proven that this exotic matter actually exists? (exotic matter is a very loose term that refers to, well, anything that doesn't fit within standard physics models)

A lot of these sci-fi-esk theories require some form of exotic matter for them to work. It's not a matter of getting 500kg of the stuff, it's a matter of whether the stuff can even exist off of paper. It's like saying, "It's entirely possible to walk on the ceiling at will, all we need is 30 anti-gravity floor panels and to figure out this other, unrelated, minor physics problem." I mean, all you need to do is violate a half dozen accepted laws of physics. I'll just head down to the anti-physics store and grab those panels. Should be done by lunch right?

I'm all for it, but let's make sure the exotic matter is actually possible before we start applying it to other science (maybe they have?).
#8 Jan 09 2013 at 1:58 PM Rating: Decent
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Yodabunny wrote:
Neat stuff but have they proven that this exotic matter actually exists? (exotic matter is a very loose term that refers to, well, anything that doesn't fit within standard physics models)

A lot of these sci-fi-esk theories require some form of exotic matter for them to work. It's not a matter of getting 500kg of the stuff, it's a matter of whether the stuff can even exist off of paper. It's like saying, "It's entirely possible to walk on the ceiling at will, all we need is 30 anti-gravity floor panels and to figure out this other, unrelated, minor physics problem." I mean, all you need to do is violate a half dozen accepted laws of physics. I'll just head down to the anti-physics store and grab those panels. Should be done by lunch right?

I'm all for it, but let's make sure the exotic matter is actually possible before we start applying it to other science (maybe they have?).


I think you may be missing the point. The point of the work being done now is to establish a proof of concept re: "warp bubbles". Right now, FTL travel is merely theoretical. The intent is to prove it can exist, and then figure out how to replicate it on a larger scale.


Edited, Jan 9th 2013 1:58pm by BrownDuck
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You guys keep tossing facts out there like they mean something.


#9 Jan 09 2013 at 2:36 PM Rating: Decent
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Oh, not at all. If you want to look for tiny warp bubbles look for tiny warp bubbles but don't tell people "We're looking for tiny warp bubbles because if we find them we can turn on our magic physics breaking exotic matter machine and fly across the universe." It's purposeful misdirection of the facts to make this sound cooler than it really is.

This research doesn't get you warp drives if the power required is theoretically impossible to generate, which is the case without "exotic matter" which is just a fancy way of saying "we don't know how to do this so we'll just make up some "thing" that has the properties we would need to make it work the way we think it would if it wasn't for this pesky 'physics' thing."

I'm not saying it's not possible, I don't know, maybe it really is possible to make a magic physics breaking exotic matter machine. I think the research is definitely worth doing, but they are making this out to be something it is not which is disturbing coming from scientists.
#10 Jan 09 2013 at 2:45 PM Rating: Excellent
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Yodabunny wrote:
Oh, not at all. If you want to look for tiny warp bubbles look for tiny warp bubbles but don't tell people "We're looking for tiny warp bubbles because if we find them we can turn on our magic physics breaking exotic matter machine and fly across the universe." It's purposeful misdirection of the facts to make this sound cooler than it really is.

We all have to get funded somehow.
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#11 Jan 09 2013 at 3:58 PM Rating: Excellent
http://xkcd.com/678/
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#12 Jan 09 2013 at 10:37 PM Rating: Good
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When the USA landed on the moon. I had figured that we would have a fully operational and large moon base. We were so close to having it.
I still hope that we continue and have one and then move to mars before I pass on. Warp drive would be so beneficial and help us grow beyond our
current solar system.

Edited, Jan 9th 2013 11:59pm by Tailmon
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#13 Jan 10 2013 at 9:39 AM Rating: Decent
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I think once we get to the point that there are commercially viable business opportunities in space we're going to see a space boom like we couldn't imagine. There's no unsolvable technical reason we can't populate the solar system using current knowledge we just don't have enough of a reason to do it at the moment. The second we do everyone and their mother is going to be developing space tech.

If you can build a smelter and factory in space and have the capability to rope asteroids you really have no limits to what you can accomplish given enough time. We're really not that far off of that.
#14 Jan 10 2013 at 9:58 AM Rating: Excellent
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I hear Pro Rodeo already has expansion plans.
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#15 Jan 10 2013 at 10:58 AM Rating: Good
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They should make a sort of redneck version of polo from that.

So like polo but instead of horses they'll all ride bulls.
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#16 Jan 10 2013 at 11:05 AM Rating: Excellent
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ATVs.

Smiley: nod
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#17 Jan 10 2013 at 11:19 AM Rating: Good
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Bulls are more fun because there'd be goring of players and the challenge of not falling off.

Although the chance of a stampede happening and killing half the audience is somewhat of a downside.
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#18 Jan 10 2013 at 11:28 AM Rating: Excellent
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Referees need some of those red cape thingies then. That works right?
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#19 Jan 10 2013 at 12:26 PM Rating: Good
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At the very least it'd rake in the cash on pay-per-view TV/streaming.
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#20 Jan 10 2013 at 4:32 PM Rating: Good
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Sir Xsarus wrote:


this one always makes me a little sad.
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#21 Jan 10 2013 at 4:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
Sir Xsarus wrote:


this one always makes me a little sad.

Now I want to send someone to Mars to go get him, like right now. Smiley: frown
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#22 Jan 23 2013 at 9:03 AM Rating: Decent
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Could this be the beginning? This is exactly the type of commercialization that will lead to large scale space exploration. This plan looks a bit shaky but if successful could create a fuel infrastructure in space, gas stations for spacecraft. Not only that but simply having a successful "fleet" of craft in space should be enough proof of concept to convince other companies to take the plunge. Especially if they get those 3D printers they're talking about to make the craft out of rock goo, self sufficient mining replicators...where's my shotgun...
#23 Jan 26 2013 at 5:16 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
Sir Xsarus wrote:


this one always makes me a little sad.


I hate you SO HARD right now for linking this.
#24 Jan 26 2013 at 11:02 PM Rating: Good
We could have a whole thread on just the depressing xkcds.
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