Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu

Another Star Trek technology becoming a reality?

"The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today’s New Scientist magazine."

"The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft." [impulse engine?]

"Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension [subspace?], where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension." [warp drive?]

Comments 8

  1. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Sweet. I’d love to go to Mars and elsewhere but don’t want to be away from the family for so long. A short commute would be just what the doctor ordered. (ha ha) Heck, maybe the whole family could go. It would make holidays a pain, but it would be pretty cool…

    Posted 13 Jan 2006 at 12:39 pm
  2. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Umm… Faster than speed of light (in this universe) travel will cause the traveler (should he or she to return to this universe) to go back in time (by this universe’s reckoning). If the future (in this universe) is very long, and we have some reason to believe it is, ample time (in the future) will have elapsed for many, many travelers to travel back. So much so that surely one more such travelers will have “screwed up” and spilled the beans about the future and it would all be common knowledge today. (We’d all be millionaires with the Lotto winnings!) Since we have no such common knowledge, either a)future super light speed travel will never be possible; OR b)the future of this universe is rather short.

    In addition, a universe where the speed of light is very different from our own would have universal constants very different from our own. What cause have we to believe that matter from our universe could survive (or even exist) in such an environment? What safeguards could be in place to prevent the travelers’ protons from falling apart?

    Posted 13 Jan 2006 at 3:57 pm
  3. Funky Dung wrote:

    Actually, the speed of light may be more flexlible than thought by most. In a vacuum, all other things equal, it is the speed quoted in textbooks. I think the implication of research like this is that there may be circumstances (such as other dimensions) in which the speed of light, though “constant” is is faster. IOW, I believe “faster than the speed of light” as used by this article means that researchers have hypothesized that conditions exist in which the speed of light is faster than it is in an ordinary vacuum. Also, recall the fictional physics behind warp drive. Starships don’t actually travel faster than light in Star Trek. They bend space-time such that two points are “pinched” together. Think of the example in “A Wrinkle in Time” where an ant travels from one end of the string to the other much more quickly when a loop in the string is made.

    Posted 13 Jan 2006 at 6:17 pm
  4. gbm3 wrote:

    “Starships don’t actually travel faster than light in Star Trek. They bend space-time such that two points are “pinched” together. Think of the example in “A Wrinkle in Time” where an ant travels from one end of the string to the other much more quickly when a loop in the string is made.” -FD

    Your thinking of a worm-hole. The warp drive is supposed to make an object travel faster than the speed of light by warping space-time around it (sort of like the pressure differential around an airplane wing for lift).

    See the link for better, albeit fictional, explanation:


    I would be curious to see how a large magnetic field could propel an object faster than the speed of light. I’m not convinced.

    This reminds me of the rewriting of physics in the movie Contact ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118884/ ). In this movie, objects were propelled from a sitting position with a large magnetic field setup around them.

    There’s that magnetic field again!

    Posted 13 Jan 2006 at 9:02 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    Maybe a better analogy for warp drive would be shrinking fabric. It’s not a wormhole. It’s a compression of space-time. At least that’s what my fuzzy recollection of the Star Trek technical manual tells me. 😉

    Posted 13 Jan 2006 at 10:34 pm
  6. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Compression of space time IS (I think more or less) gravity. Gravity IS acceleration (with a non-zero mass of course). I think we’re still comparing apples with apples. No matter how you do it, if you get to Mars in 3 minutes and then come back in 3 minutes, you should be back in just enough time to wish yourself a nice trip… or kill your father or something…

    Posted 14 Jan 2006 at 4:51 am
  7. Rob wrote:

    First, any form of FTL would in fact cause a “time travel” problem, whether wormhole or hyperspace or anything else. The problem is in defining “now.” “Now” for someone at rest is different from “now” for someone travelling .9999c. The problem, according to relativity, is that you can’t tell who’s travelling .9999c and who’s at rest!

    There may be a preferred reference frame (a form of symmetry breaking) or perhaps time travel (with all it’s attendant problems) is possible.

    The article this report is based on took a rather one-sided and limited view of the research. The theory that would predict such effects is not a complete mathematical theory. It has some math which permits some calculations, but it’s also got gaping holes through which you can drive a spaceship — resulting in FTL!

    It’s interesting, but it’s a long way from being tested, let alone used.

    I mentioned this theory briefly in a Quick Links post…perhaps I ought to comment more.

    Posted 14 Jan 2006 at 9:43 pm
  8. Jerry wrote:

    Rob, I’d have to look over my old notes and book on special relativity (I want to say that this has to do with the “light cone” that is used in special relativity), but depending on how far away the destination is, it may not be a problem.

    Posted 18 Jan 2006 at 8:25 pm

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