FTL? - The Alcubierre Drive Initiative

Discussion in 'Alternative Technologies & Energetics' started by nivek, Sep 22, 2019.

  1. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    NASA Admits Alcubierre Drive Initiative: Faster Than The Speed Of Light

    Before we jump into this, you should know that a number of scientists are currently researching the feasibility of warp drive (and EMdrive and a number of other modes of faster than light travel); however, most think that such forms of space travel simply aren’t viable, thanks to the fundamental physics of our universe.

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    So although part of this article is simply, “Oh my gosh, look at this amazing design,” that’s not the entire point. To that end, let’s take a moment to break this all down a bit so we have an understanding of what exactly is being proposed in relation to warp drive, and why it is met with such skepticism, before we get a bit too carried away…

    In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a new kind of technology that would allow us to travel 10 times faster than the speed of light without actually breaking the speed of light. That seems a little contradictory, doesn’t it? After all, we’ve been told time and again that light is the universal speed limit – nothing in the cosmos can travel faster than it (much less 10 times faster) and herein lies the key to the Alcubierre drive: When you use it, you aren’t actually moving through space.

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    This technology would not actually propel the ship to speeds exceeding light; instead, it uses the deformation of spacetime permitted by General Relativity to warp the universe around the vessel. Essentially, when the drive is activated the spacetime behind expands, while in the front it contracts. In this respect, the path taken becomes a time-like free-fall.

    Alcubierre’s ideas have lead to a number of interesting thought experiments in quantum field theory; however, as mentioned above, most scientists think that the technology will never actually work. When you think about it, that kind of makes sense. Obviously, warping space requires a lot of mass and energy, and ensuring that the space where you are located isn’t warped is tricky business. Indeed, the proposition was mostly just a thought experiment when it was first proposed – not something Alcubierre thought was actually viable technology.

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    As physicist Sean Carroll notes:

    In short, it requires negative energy densities, which can’t be strictly disproven but are probably unrealistic; the total amount of energy is likely to be equivalent to the mass-energy of an astrophysical body; and the gravitational fields produced would likely rip any ship to shreds. My personal estimate of the likelihood we will ever be able to build a “warp drive” is much less than 1%. And the chances it will happen in the next hundred years I would put at less than 0.01%. - [Reference: Jalopnik]

    That said, scientists will likely be producing papers addressing these ideas for some time. We’ll continue to cover them as they come out (and though things may look painfully dismal for this technology, who knows what the future may hold).

    But on to the design…

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    In 2010, NASA physicist Harold White revealed that he and a team were working on a design for this faster-than-light ship, and this is the most recent design of what such a ship might actually look like. As you can see in the image, the ship rests between two enormous rings, which create the warp bubble.

    Artist Mark Rademaker worked on the project with White. In the release, Rademaker asserts that he spent over 1,600 hours working on the design. The ship is called the IXS Enterprise, and it is meant to fit the concept for a Faster Than Light ship. Mike Okuda also brought input, and designed the Ship’s insignia.

    To give you some idea of just how awesome warp technology would be: A trip to the nearest star (Proxima Centauri), which rests some four light-years from Earth, would ordinarily take over 17,000 years. However, with the Alcubierre drive, it would take a little under five months. For those of us who have a mental breakdown on 10 hour plane flights, 5 months might still seem like quite a bit of travel time. But when we are talking about the vast cosmic distances between Earth and Proxima Centauri, a 5 month trip would be an achievement of monumental proportions (keep in mind, it took Curiosity 8 months just to reach Mars).


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  2. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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  3. Shadowprophet

    Shadowprophet Truthiness

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    Would the bubble or wave decrease entropy upon the craft? it's my understanding that the force of acceleration which increases density becomes so great at FTL that things begin to break back down into energy, This wave of space-time around the craft may protect it to some degree, But, I propose this ideology, If a bubble is boiling in water, gas inside the bubble still experience the temperate conditions, I can only assume this gravity wave would have its limits, I can't possibly see that tiny wave of warped space as being adequate to protect the craft and it's occupants from time dilation, Don't get me wrong, Time dilation in itself could be harmless on biological life forms, to a degree. But great amounts of time dilation, like that of light speed, or even faster than light travel, Would in the most scientific way I can say this, " Really Fuck up a biological life form" In somewhat predictable ways, However, Yeah, I fully believe such a concept is possible. But Could it ever be safe?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
  4. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Administrator

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    The Alcubierre metric is at least extremely valuable as a pedagogical tool, because it demonstrates the key features of gravitational field propulsion systems in general. Notably these include; arbitrarily superluminal speeds (it is not limited to 10c as this article wrongly asserts), freefall trajectories (i.e. the occupants would feel no acceleration at all), absence of time dilation effects (which are associated with all reaction propulsion methods), and no need for propellant or control surfaces.

    In other words, the Alcubierre metric predicts all of the performance characteristics that have been widely reported with UFO sightings dating back over 70 years.

    Perhaps the most important feature of gravitational field propulsion systems is that there is no known upper theoretical limit to the velocities attainable with this type of propulsion, and since we know via the inflationary model that spacetime can deform dozens of orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light, that at least those speeds are theoretically attainable with this type of system.

    Taking those facts together; A.) UFOs perform exactly as gravitational field propulsion theory predicts and B.) the transit times between stars within our galaxy using such a system can be extremely minute, we have a simple explanation for UFO sightings as vehicles originating light-years distant from the Earth, which could theoretically traverse light-years of distance within a matter of minutes if not seconds.

    There are two primary objections to Alcubierre's concept. 1.) it requires an antigravitational field, and 2.) it appears to require astronomical levels of positive and negative mass-energy to produce a viable vehicle.

    The first objection appeared to doom the idea to fiction...until we discovered in 1998 that an antigravitational field (which we call "dark energy") pervades the entire universe. That proved that negative gravitational fields exist in nature, so they're possible after all, even if we don't yet understand how this "dark energy" field works. Our best guess model for how it works stipulates that the antigravitational field associated with dark energy is produced by positive energy - so that's actually a very promising sign.

    The second objection is an illusion produced by our limited understanding of gravitation. Otherwise, we wouldn't be observing 30-40ft wide craft that clearly utilize gravitational field propulsion fairly frequently operating in our airspace. This highlights the fact that we don't yet have a viable model of quantum gravity - if we did, we could probably figure out how to engineer powerful gravitational fields without astronomical magnitudes of mass-energy.

    Personally I think that the Alcubierre metric is merely an instructive example of the key features which are common to all forms of gravitational field propulsion. We also see these key features in the "swimming in spacetime" gravitational field propulsion concept presented by MIT's Jack Wisdom.

    So in my view, we have not yet discovered the form of gravitational field propulsion system that UFOs routinely use to cross interstellar distances and surveil our most sensitive military installations with impunity - I think we'll discover a new form of gravitational field propulsion system which is technologically achievable with modest mass-energy requirements. In fact I may have figured it out, and I'm currently working on developing the concept at the theoretical level.

    There are a lot of mistakes in this assessment G. For one thing, there is no time dilation with gravitational field propulsion; that's one of the reasons it's so exciting. In theory, you could travel to the Andromeda galaxy and be back home in time for lunch. Another problem I see here is that you're mixing up the relativistic mass increase associated with special relativity (which applies to reaction propulsion systems, like rockets) with gravitational field propulsion which employs general relativity - this approach exerts zero acceleration force on the craft and occupants, invokes no time dilation effects, and imparts no momentum or energy to the craft - in a sense, the craft doesn't move but the spacetime around the craft is distorted, which changes its position.

    The physics of general relativity is at least as bizarre and counterintuitive as the more exotic features of quantum field theory - but people just don't talk about it because it's not technologically achievable by human civilization yet, unlike quantum entanglement, which has been achieved countless times over the decades.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  5. Spaceman spiff

    Spaceman spiff Honorable

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    So basically Star Trek type of vessels, artificial gravity, huge speeds....?
     
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  6. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Administrator

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    Pretty much - but think of it this way: the average age of habitable planets orbiting Sun-like stars is around 2-3 billion years older than the Earth, so we're probably dealing with intergalactic Federation vehicles capable of Warp Factor 100 trillion, most of which are probably about the size of a school bus instead of the Enterprise. And some of them could be originating from beyond the cosmic horizon rather than within our galaxy, although the majority of them probably originate from within our galaxy.

    And the intelligences piloting these vehicles are probably proficient with telepathy and possess other mental faculties that make us roughly equivalent to an amoeba, by comparison.
     
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  7. Spaceman spiff

    Spaceman spiff Honorable

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    That kind of tech would make even our scifi ship conjurations seem like toys in comparison.

    I just wish theyve invented holodecks and replicators too, heh. Actually holodecks arent even that far off to us, with VR and all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  8. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Administrator

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    Yeah when you think about how far we've come in the last 150 years, and try to extrapolate that kind of progress across 2 billion years, we're way beyond "imaginable" territory. Pretty much anything we can conceive of, like lurching across billions of light-years of distance in a matter of moments, passing through solid matter, and transferring the mind into new vessels as easily as we copy a pirated movie to a flash drive, would've been accomplished ages ago for such folks.
     
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  9. Spaceman spiff

    Spaceman spiff Honorable

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    Yet theres some people out there who think that we had the horse and buggy and hundred years after that, all physics pretty much solved forever.
     
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  10. Shadowprophet

    Shadowprophet Truthiness

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    I subscribe to the Kardashev Scale, Eventually, It will all come down to how much energy we can harness and put to use.
     
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  11. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    Some of the technology of those alien visitors could be easily and wrongly interpreted as magic by the average Joe, to our ancient ancestors these visitors could appear or have been interpreted as mystical beings due to the works of their highly advanced technology...I know I'm getting close to that ancient aliens theory, but in certain aspects and cases this may have been so...I still think our fancy times of nuclear detonations in our air, land, and sea for a few decades attracted visitors who previously did not know about us, some may have come from outside our galaxy...

    ...
     
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  12. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Administrator

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    I'm not so sure about that - supremacy isn't always about who has the bigger hammer. In many respects it has more to do with what you can achieve with smaller levels of power.

    Take this subject, for example: we think that it requires astronomical magnitudes of positive and negative energy to produce a gravitational field propulsion vehicle. But apparently we're off by dozens of orders of magnitude because we see these little craft zipping around that appear to be doing it with fairly modest energies.

    And maybe as a sentient life-form evolves, it begins to lean more toward existing in harmony with the universe instead of disassembling entire planets and stars to build Dyson spheres and such.

    We're a very young and unsophisticated species; I'm not convinced that we have anything significant figured out yet, not even our various yardsticks.

    This is why I don't dismiss many of the wilder sighting reports and crazy-sounding contactee and abduction stories I've heard. Could a person be floated through a solid wall in some weird beam of energy? Yeah probably, if you had a few million or billion years of technological advancement under your belt. Could beings seemingly appear out of thin air and disappear the same way? Just because we have no idea how to go about it doesn't mean that it can't be done.

    I think the only reason why some people are so sold on the idea that we're dealing with some kind of supernatural being here, is because their minds are simply incapable of envisioning the types of radical technological advancements that we should be expecting of our many galactic and intergalactic neighbors who have had billions of years to advance their physics and manufacturing capabilities.

    I think it's very interesting just how quickly we saw the dramatic appearance of "UFO flaps" after our first nuclear detonations...a lot of people saw these exotic craft in our skies within just a year or two of our first nuclear detonations. That's not even enough time for any of the signatures of those detonations to make it to the nearest exosolar stars.

    That seems to suggest pretty strongly that there's some kind of monitoring device nearby; ostensibly someplace within our solar system. And it would have to be capable of sending signals faster than light - perhaps through a small wormhole connected to an intragalactic monitoring network of some kind.

    The only other explanation I can think of, is that there's a whole lot more traffic out there than we imagine, and vehicles passing nearby our solar system on the way to someplace more civilized picked up those signals and relayed the info to a lot of others.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  13. Spaceman spiff

    Spaceman spiff Honorable

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    How do you think theyve solved the problem of AI, and it perhaps becoming dominant over the creator race? Singularity.

    Did they merge with their AI at some point, did they somehow learn to control or coexist with it or is it the AI thats actually travelling out there, having taken out its creators at some point?

    Or maybe AI can never truly be self aware, like to the point we are, no matter how advanced machines become.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  14. The shadow

    The shadow The shadow knows!

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  15. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    I do not see any inherent 'problem' with AI, all that is required is to set limitations as done with any machine, give AI focused tasks and do not allow AI to infiltrate systems it is not needed nor required...

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  16. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Administrator

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    Y'know, it's really difficult to assess this issue. On one hand I think that biological systems are inherently different than inorganic processing - I don't think that sentience is merely a function of processing power.

    On the other hand, I think it is possible to write software that can re-write itself, and that would be a big step forward toward true AI in my opinion, because that's a defining characteristic of biological brains. But it would be crazy to do that - the last thing you want is a machine that can set its own priorities and pursue its own ambitions.

    Same same. I don't know why they're calling it "a new idea for faster-than-light travel," because Alcubierre's paper was published in 1994, and the only other theoretically viable idea for FTL travel is wormholes (and those aren't particularly useful because you need to build the machines at both ends, so they can't help you get to new places).
     
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  17. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    Its possible a billion+ year old species could have developed organic bio-processors, or a bioengineered AI...Perhaps some of the visitors to our planet appeared like living humanoids but we're actually bioengineered machines...

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  18. Spaceman spiff

    Spaceman spiff Honorable

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    Could be but it would be scary if such experiments turned into Frankensteins monsters.
     
  19. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    Another possibility, that the billion+ year old intelligent species could be vastly more intelligent than any AI they create, so much more that an AI has no chance of becoming dominant over them...

    ...
     
  20. Dejan Corovic

    Dejan Corovic Celestial

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    Although at a first glance it sounds very attractive that aliens were attracted by nuclear explosions, it is highly unlikely. It would take about 100 years for EM waves from nukes to reach not more than 100 nearest stars. So the first alien visitors would be delayed by doesens of years. But Roswell happened in 1947, just 3 years after the first a-bomb.

    Obviously, unless we live right next to an advanced civilisation in our immediate neighborhood, on average, we should have to wait at least 20-30 years for the first UFO responders to nukes.

    It is far more likely that aliens were visiting us on a regular basis and that at some point in time it just so happened that we exploded some nukes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
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