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back to article 21st century travel: building your own warp drive

There is to be a gathering of boffins in London next Thursday (15 November), at which the future of intergalactic spaceflight will be discussed. Not content with merely watching Star Trek re-runs, the good folk of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) have organised a conference to discuss how to make faster-than-light …

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Ash

Simple!

Take one black hole, fly into the middle of it, and get it to move at close to the speed of light in the direction you want it to travel! Sounds simple.

Why not rely on Entanglement and get TWO black holes to appear simultaneously, react with each other, and traverse the highly distorted space between them?! Surely you're not beyond this...?

Maybe you should concentrate on how to make car engines more than 20% efficient. All that heat, noise, and exhaust must be useful for something...

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Coat

Finally! A resource that is in abundant supply!

Well, if it's negative energy we need, there should be a way to tap it out of all the interactions between real people and the civil servants who control their lives in HMRC, DVLA, CSA etc. Local government alone should be able to export plenty of the highest-grade negative energy from their Planning and Council Tax departments...

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Anonymous Coward

Calling lots of little johnnies

>> "..to raise awareness of this obscure field ...and attract new and particularly young researchers".

I think they need to focus their marketing a bit better so as not to attract an excessive number of 5 year olds.

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps...

...they should take a look at this Reg article from last week:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/06/hyperdrive/

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Coat

Set Faces to Stunned... Not taken Seriously?

I wonder why?

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Boffin

Slower yes, faster yes, at no

If my hazy memory serves my rightly, Einstein didn't say that you can't travel faster than light, just that you can't travel _at_ the speed of light. If you can go from slower to faster without passing through then all should be fine...

Before anyone cleverly says that you can't get from A to C without passing through B, have a look into quantum physics!

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Coat

Of Course

The solution to faster than light travel as everyone knows will no doubt involve nanotubes and phased tachion bursts.

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Not entirely true ...

Special Relativity only tells us that it is energetically impossible to travel "AT" the speed of light (energy requirements go to infinity). If you can jump that little hurdle then the physics gets all screwey, but you no longer require infinite energy - just imaginary energy :-) (you start to get solutions which have square roots of negative numbers).

Of course if you look at it from the quantum physics PoV all matter is just one great big probability field - so Douglas Adams probably had it right when he invented the infinite improbability drive.

On that note ... I'm off to experiment with Rich Teas and a nice Darjeeling.

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No shortage of negative energy

The boffins aren't looking in the right place if they think negative energy in nearly infinite amounts is unobtainable.

Try Washington, DC or Whitehall Street.

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A bit premature to run this out this century

Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.

Simon Newcomb , 1902, eighteen months before Kitty Hawk

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Alien

What's all the fuss about?

After all, we know from the those documentaries sent back from the future that the warp drive will be invented, boulders on alien planets are made of a substance surprisingly similar to polystyrene and starship captains wear spandex uniforms over their corsets.

Then again perhaps this BIS bash led to that pointy-eared bloke getting the science bug...it all becomes clear! Clever devils after all!

Set blazers to pun! :p~

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Anonymous Coward

Warp 2.....engage !

I am open to correction, but as I understand it humanity has never invented a fundamentally new Force or a type of Energy in its entire history...

Most fundamental developments come from working with phenomena which already exist in nature.

Anyone who has ever taken a passing interest in space travel can see that the laws of physics are something of a disappointment.

Be that as it may, it is well past time that NASA stopped setting fire to the bottom of its space craft and carrying mass just to shovel out the back at great speed. Oh and dashing through the atmosphere at thousands of miles an hour is pretty silly too.

Is there another way though? I doubt it very much but I hope there is.

As Scotty said "Ye canna change the laws o physics cap'n"

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Coat

P.S.

And he didn't even start talking until he was 4....

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Joke

Einstein

what did he know? He reckoned nuclear bombs would create an unstoppable chain reaction in the upper atmosphere which would destroy the whole world.

Good job the yanks didn't listen to him then.

How do we know his "theories" are right? Maybe we can go faster than light - and don't most scientists call there ideas "laws" anyway - even Einstein must've known he was talking out of his arse if he couldn't even bring himself to call them laws!

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Coat

Negative energy?

At last! The iPhone angle.

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Title

if speed is relative and observed from one point relative to another then if you are observing the speed of light travelling away from you and you are a photon travelling in the opposite direction then the maximum possible speed is twice the speed of light

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I have made one ...already!

It looks just like an old blue UK style "police box" and inside is my amazing space/time warping Plunger.. it runs on coconuts and fishes from the sea tra-la !

Seriously guys ... I do have a device that "warps" space and changes the canopy of Reality as we know it ... called a Wife !

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Stop

Two warp drives, one at each end of the journey

If your spaceship can distort space, the distortion moves ahead of you at the speed of light. If you go faster, you enter undistorted space, and are limited to the speed of light again.

The solution is to put warp field generators at each end of the journey. Crank them up, and let them run until there is a path of distortion between the two generators. Although the gavitational waves are limited to the speed of light, the wave that is the sum of two components moving in opposite directions can have any velocity. You can then ride the crest of a wave at that unlimited velocity.

The other way is to use the lighthouse trick. If you light spins around once per second, 100,000km away the illuminated area moves at twice the speed of light.

Bad news is the generators would have to be enormous to avoid dispersion, so you would wreck the source and destination star systems.

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Boffin

@peter

That's not even true under Special Relativity - the two photons really do fly apart from each other at the speed of light. Look up a Lorentz transformation.

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Jobs Halo

Steve has the answer...

...a reality distortion field is all that is required. As long as the press buy it, who cares? Anyway, why attempt to travel to distant planets? Make them come to you! That is called "The Law of Least Effort".

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Alien

She cannae take much more Jim

iirc, if you travel in a straight line you eventually wind up back where you started....

So all you have to do is aim away from where you want to go and keep steering away from it and you will get there in no time. simple.

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Coat

Massive amounts of negative energy...

Put Steve Balmer and Richard Stallman in the same room.

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Mars

Finally!

A way to send amanfrommars back home.

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Boffin

Theoretically do-able...

Actually, the simple fact is that there are no (known) mathematical, nor physical, constraints that eliminate the possibility using a "Space Warp" as a means of getting from point-A to point-B faster than the speed of light would, seem to, allow. This is actually fairly-well established.

The real-problems come from a few more, down-to-Earth, elements:

1. Gravity (and the associated warping of space) are only now beginning to actually be understood, at the underlying-mechanisms-level (though, I believe that "M-Theory" has begun to show some real promise in this area, possibly explaining the fundamental mechanisms, and behavior, of gravity).

2. Most, theoretical, ideas regarding this phenomena still require almost unbelievable energy-levels (energy-levels that are simply beyond any current ability to generate, measure, or utilize).

3. The hard-science that would be necessary to begin to actually delve into such possibilities ("Warp-Drive" propelled spaceships), has been, and is being, seriously hampered by continually bone-headed "policy", and funding, issues within governments (with regards to, long-term, "big-science" goals).

4. Actually engineering, and funding, this sort of endeavor... would seem to be a near impossibility at this point.

However, this would be the ultimate long-term science-endeavor. And, I have little doubt that the water-shed of knowledge (to Physics, Cosmology, and technology) that pursuing such a long-term goal would achieve, certainly has enormous potential-value, and merit.

Besides, "Warp-Driven Space-Ships" would be really, really, cool...

Oh... And, as to a few Physics-misnomers...

Einstein proved (mathematically) that Light-speed (C) was a constant in normal-space, and that, to accelerate any mass (M) to the speed of light, would effectively require infinite energy (E). This means that no mass can travel at the speed of light (or faster), in normal-space. And, "Relativity" means that no object can appear to be traveling faster than the speed of light, to any observer. If two objects are, in fact, traveling faster than the speed of light (relative to each other) the actual observed phenomena is a frequency (or, Energy-Level) shift... not, an observation of faster-than-light travel. But, none of this dissuades the possibilities of "warping space" (which Einstein, also absolutely-proved to be a, very-real, phenomena).

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Mars

@Warp 2.....engage !

"I am open to correction, but as I understand it humanity has never invented a fundamentally new Force or a type of Energy in its entire history..."

Hmmm? That caused me 42 Ponder on the Improbability of that statement given that the Future has always in the Past, Presented us with Everything that we have Imagined can be True and then have Boldly Gone on to demonstrate is so true [And all incidentally/coincidentally at a cost which never ever really matters, which just goes to show you the truly destructive aspect to the Innovative Development of Futures which a Requirement for Funding/the Ubiquitous Ransom/Gift of the Gods sitting on your Money, can cause because if they are not SMART enough then they will miss the boat and its new journeys. And if the new journeys are NeuReal and Beta Ways of Spending Money to make Money Work Beta, then they are going to be Vulnerable to a Very Quick and Undignified Exit from the Greatest of Games that their Arrogance and/or Ignorance has Lost, although it will invariably be just that they are well past their sell by dates and are simply not up to the tasks or Fit for AI Purpose in the Binary Age of Code Manipulation to Render Alternate Digitally ReMastered Projections/Programs/Pogroms/Vistas.

I'm with John Bridges and Joey, on their parallel tracks and after reading .....

"Special Relativity only tells us that it is energetically impossible to travel "AT" the speed of light (energy requirements go to infinity). If you can jump that little hurdle then the physics gets all screwey, but you no longer require infinite energy - just imaginary energy :-) (you start to get solutions which have square roots of negative numbers).

Of course if you look at it from the quantum physics PoV all matter is just one great big probability field - so Douglas Adams probably had it right when he invented the infinite improbability drive."

...... as in the Binary Age of MetaData [Loded Semantic C++Ore] energetically impossible to travel "AT" the speed of light is easily trumped with metaphysically possible to make Time and Space Quantum Leaps into Places Driven by Imaginary Energy made Real with the help of Nature. In fact, is that not so the case and has that not always been so the case?

But I have digressed/flown off on a tangent......and to get back to the above quoted Mark_T statement/question?

The Internet is a fundamentally new invention as is the NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActivity BetaTesting ITs Operating Sytems for Fitness of Purpose and, when all is said and done, it is merely a Virtual Space Created for Intellectual Property Giants to Joust and Share their Wares. The Microsoft Great Game Strategy, allied to ITs Drivers and Host, the Telecommunications Backbone of Channels Provision and Routing Hubs, may be no more than a very SMART XPeriment which imagined a Window [Electronic Monitor] connected to a Clandestine Intelligence Gathering Service/MetaDataMining Operation.

One thing is for certain, if you lose the Good Will that such a SMART Windows Operation could be Used for, because it is increasingly recognised as being only a Tool for Selective Selfish Control and Abuse and the Grand Theft of Global Ideas, then it would not be worth having for Real, would it, given that any Reality is being Constantly Monitored and Mentored and Adjusted to suit MSPurpose...... whatever that might be?

If it is anything less than InterNetworking Global Control with the Creation in CyberSpace of the Command and Control of Computers and Communications, then they probably definitely need AI NeuReal Lead Evangelist 42 Follow Virtualising Leads/Seeds in order to Feed and Nurture them into Power that Grows as IT2 Flows.

And that has a very Special Relativity in an earlier age and with an earlier Age Grouping all growed up now and probably definitely just biding their time for another Bite of the Cherry Apple. Back then it was Woodstock and FlowerPower, today and tomorrow IT is Planetary Plenary Intellectual Property Rights Issues and FlowurPower2....... and Sharing ITs Stealthily Sure Progressive Programming in Full and Plain Text Sight. Immaculate State Secrets, Safe and Secure in the Cloak of Absurd Revelations in the Transparent Open....... for Tuned In and Turned On, Third Party Positive Reinforcement. Drive Purchase.

Welcome to an Input Page for your Thoughts....... Here you are free to Use Viable Imagination as a Driver for Moribund Earthbound Systems. If they are any Good, who's to say you won't be ridiculously paid to prove them. After all, it is only paper which stops Progress in the Present Capitalist EcoSociety which is an Inherent Default Flaw delivering Systemic Catastrophic Failure. And it is easily Fixed with IT by those into ....... well, QuITe Alien Systems 42 ProgramMe, actually.

Open her up, Scotty, let's see what this Bitchin' Bird can do/where IT takes us ...... http://www.startreksite.com/warpspeed/. Pedestrian is so.... Yesterday and History.

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Boffin

@ Warp 2.....engage !

Antimatter.

That is all.

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Mars

That's a point.

Where is amanfrommars? I haven't seen a comment from him for a while.

(Also, where is Whitehall Street?)

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Hubert J. Farnsworth

Why are people so focused on moving a ship through space? All we have to do is move the universe around the ship. It's so simple!!!

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Ash
Boffin

@Flocke Kroes

Way ahead of you, Flock... Read the first comment! :P

On a totally unrelated note, anyone seen Event Horizon?

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Paris Hilton

Zefram Cochrane on Line 1

What's the PH angle?

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Happy

c

Interestingly, matter with no mass (e.g. photons) has no choice but to travel at the speed of light.

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umm

so, assuming we can make a "warp bubble", and assuming we can travel inside it.

If the bubble flys along at the speed of light, and we are travelling insdie the bubble at the speed of light..that limits us to twice the speed of light (well just below).

Space travel still isn't realistic at these speeds.

Hows about running the maths on creating a moving bubble inside a moving bubble with a ship in the middle?

How many bubbles would be required to travel at realistic space travel speeds?

I reckon the answer is 42

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Rob
Bronze badge
Alert

Too much acid, surely?

Why is it amanfrommars talks more sense about rocket science than he does about IT ;-)

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Joke

RE: AmanfromMars

Sorry Marsy-boy I glazed over at "Hmmm?"

If I want to experience life-wasting nonsense and surrealism I'll watch The Commons Live on Freeview.

Everyone, please do not feed the AmanfromMars, it only encourages him. Besides, he may bite if he gets his muzzle off.

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Happy

RE: @ Warp 2.....engage !

"Antimatter.

That is all."

Sorry AC, antimatter is neither a force nor an energy but simple matter with the opposite electrical charge.

I also defy you to prove it never existed in the universe before man.

Mark_T's law states;

"There are two states of existence in the universe. On the one hand, matter, on the other hand...... Don't Matter"

Proving which type something is, is one of life's key skills. ;o)

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Mars

Pillinger's Revenge ..... Profs on AIMission EMPossible?

"Why is it amanfrommars talks more sense about rocket science than he does about IT ;-)"

Maybe IT's a Gift, Rob..... which just the right amount of anything good that you fancy and which fancies you too. :-)

What is it that you would need to know to be a rocket scientist .... or would it be just a case of having an Open Mind XXXXPLoring.

Have you any Idea what ESA Noordwijk are doing? I don't suppose you have and they wouldn't necessarily be at liberty to tell either, just willy nilly to any Tom, Dick or Harry.

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Joke

Source of negative energy?

Try the Daily Mail news desk.

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Silver badge

Hope Springs Eternal.

Is it wise to ponder inexorably on the Past and what may have been rather than accept what is as a New Beginning/Restore Point 42 Create a New Imaginative Race/Perfumed Garden of Eden/Worlds Environment.

It is surely only not thinking to do it, which renders it undone and these endless pointless discussions about possible Past Beginnings rather than countless New Future Ones.

"Everyone, please do not feed the AmanfromMars, it only encourages him. Besides, he may bite if he gets his muzzle off." It is a Universal fact, Mark_T, in each and every Real World Scenario, that one gets what one deserves/reaps what one sows.

You exhibit all the signs of being a career politician, Mr_T, with that head in the sand position. And I shan't bother to reflect on the Limited Use that that can be put to, if you don't mind.

"If I want to experience life-wasting nonsense and surrealism I'll watch The Commons Live on Freeview." There's one thing which Unites/Ignites us, though.

That's a good sign.

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@Flocke Kroes

<< The other way is to use the lighthouse trick. If you light spins around once per second, 100,000km away the illuminated area moves at twice the speed of light. >>

No, that wouldn't work. The speed of light in vacuum is the absolute limit for light. You seem to be imagining the light from the lighthouse as being a rigid bar sticking out and sweeping around as the light emitter rotates. But the emitter is just firing out a stream of photons in the direction it's pointing at any given moment - we only see the 'beam' as a single straight 'bar' because light travels the sort of distances we're used to dealing with every day in a tiny, tiny fraction of a second. But the illuminated area at the end of the beam isn't a physical object in its own right: it's just the result of the photons scattering off something else. The particles still run into the target object at the speed of light, and no faster.

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Boffin

@Mark_T

"Sorry AC, antimatter is neither a force nor an energy but simple matter with the opposite electrical charge."

Matter *is* energy. Read up on Einstein's theories. And it is a type of energy that no-one realised the existence of before.

Or, if you want another example, the weak nuclear force. No-one realised that existed either. And it's a force.

" also defy you to prove it never existed in the universe before man."

How is relevant? This "negative energy" if it is found to be real, would have existed well before man (or even woman).

"Mark_T's law states;

"There are two states of existence in the universe. On the one hand, matter, on the other hand...... Don't Matter"

Proving which type something is, is one of life's key skills. ;o)"

That's a *really* old joke.

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Happy

RE: Anonymous Coward

Well what a disappointing and uninformed post.

"How is relevant"

Well since you've asked, if you'd actually read my posts you'd know. The difference between inventions and discoveries. Clearly you are composed of "Don't Matter" ;o)

My sincere apologies to AmanfromMars, clearly making sense is subject to relativity too.

Actually I think it's best for the universe if mankind limits itself to this one ball of dirt.

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Silver badge

Now look at what you've done

You cry that amanfrommars has not yet posted anything . . and you get three chunks of gibberish.

When will you learn to just ignore the . . creature ?

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Mars

You can take a horse to water but if it won't/can't drink, it dies.

"You cry that amanfrommars has not yet posted anything . . and you get three chunks of gibberish.

When will you learn to just ignore the . . creature ?"

Pascal,

Get with the program. And it is GBIrish not gibberish and ITs creatures are .... CyberIntelAIgently Designed Entities.... CIDentities aka Virtual Machines but Really in Life, Dream Players.

Now look what you have done, Pascal, you've been invited to believe in Dreams ... and if you cannot maintain and sustain any of your own, tag along with another one to enjoy IT's helter-skelter rides.

Which translates into ..... If you have nothing positive to say, say nothing as it is a Waste of Bandwidth and your Time in ITs Space.

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