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NASA Working on Warp Drive! (GEEKY GRIN!!!!)

NASA warp drive ftl

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#1 QueenTiye

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 01:23 PM

http://www.theatlant...p-drive/265655/


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So, one-tenth the speed of light and we could be there in 40 years. That's not half bad. As Seager notes, many people would be willing to give up Earth and make that assuredly miserable journey for the privilege of being the first humans to explore another solar system. But still: 40 years, it's no cakewalk.

That's why a new number, care of NASA physicist Harold White, is so stunning: Two weeks. Two weeks to Alpha Centauri, he told io9, if only we can travel by warping space-time.

Of course, of course, easier said than done, but White thinks it's possible, and he and a team at NASA are at the very early stages of making it so.

Referenced article here:
http://io9.com/59632...irst-warp-drive



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A new design

In October of last year, White was preparing for a talk he was to give for the kickoff to the 100 Year Starship project in Orlando, Florida. As he was pulling together his overview on space warp, he performed a sensitivity analysis for the field equations, more out of curiosity than anything else.

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"My early results suggested I had discovered something that was in the math all along," he recalled. "I suddenly realized that if you made the thickness of the negative vacuum energy ring larger — like shifting from a belt shape to a donut shape — and oscillate the warp bubble, you can greatly reduce the energy required — perhaps making the idea plausible." White had adjusted the shape of Alcubierre's ring which surrounded the spheroid from something that was a flat halo to something that was thicker and curvier.
He presented the results of his Alcubierre Drive rethink a year later at the 100 Year Starship conference in Atlanta where he highlighted his new optimization approaches — a new design that could significantly reduce the amount of exotic matter required. And in fact, White says that the warp drive could be powered by a mass that's even less than that of the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
That's a significant change in calculations to say the least. The reduction in mass from a Jupiter-sized planet to an object that weighs a mere 1,600 pounds has completely reset White's sense of plausibility — and NASA's.

OK - seriously - how cool is this, that all of a sudden warp-drives might be PLAUSIBLE... plausible enough for the institution of record to be investigating seriously?  WOW WOW WOW! :)

QT

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#2 RJDiogenes

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:51 PM

Fingers crossed.  I tend to be skeptical about these things, because if warp drive were that easy, it wouldn't take long for one spacefaring civilization to dominate the galaxy and present plenty of evidence of their existence-- and while I suspect that intelligent, technological civilizations are pretty rare, there are probably a few dozen in the Milky Way and some of them are going to be more advanced than we are.

Still, there is nothing I would like better than for this to pan out.  :happy:
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#3 Orpheus

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:26 PM

Well, "plausible" if you use exotic matter, which (being unknown/undiscovered)can "plausibly" be assigned many sets of properties, even contradictory ones.

Another way of saying "exotic matter" is "this won't work with any known form of matter". Exotic matter is just one term astrophysicists invented to "explain" things they can't (yet) explain with known physics.

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But I encourage them to keep on plugging at it. New science basically never comes from what we [correctly] understand, but from unexpected physical findings.

#4 RJDiogenes

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:09 PM

Yeah, the Exotic Matter thing is a bit of a Space Opera gimmick-- but, given the ever-increasing knowledge of the subatomic world, who knows if ordinary matter couldn't be coaxed into exhibiting the proper exotic properties.  Think of the technology imagined by Greg Bear in Moving Mars (and which I stole for my short story "Macro 32"); being able to manipulate matter at that level would allow us to accomplish almost anything.  But, again, the fact that nobody else is doing it makes it seem kind of unlikely.
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#5 QueenTiye

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:47 PM

Well, the "exotic" matter proposed, apparently has defined qualities that allowed for mathematical projections, which could be used by  other scientists.  BY which I mean, if Exotic Matter = X, X is defined in such a way that it can be plugged into other equations - which is what I understand happened here.  This scientist took an existing equation using X and manipulated OTHER parts of the equation to get to the point where they could use a lot less energy than originally conceived. And I understand that they plan to test the other aspects of the equation for plausibility.  My assumption is that if that part is plausible, that's whey they'll start trying to solve for X.

Qt

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#6 JudasRimmer

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 05:06 PM

Props to Nasa for researching this,but at the bottom of the original article is a link to another article which explains why stopping at your destination would be very dangerous. Looks like you'd need to bunny-hop there instead. Less of a warp drive,more a Holly Hop drive. ;)

Dave.

#7 RJDiogenes

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:10 PM

Well, "hopping down the bunny trail" doesn't sound quite as cool as "engage wormhole drive," but, hey, whatever works. :lol:
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