FTL warp experiments: Media hype or significant?

  1. FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/warp-drive-star-trek-feasible_n_1890679.html

    This is just one article, but they're are plenty more to be found. There is one thing that confuses me though. Alcubierre's warp drive idea seemed to rely on "exotic matter" to bend space time- in other words total speculation. So how do we get from that to an actual experiment that uses a laser interferometer to create micro warps? Is this a new application of this technology? It seems like the basis for creating these warps is just as significant as the power reductions, but all the articles I've seen (which are mostly repostings of an article from space.com) gloss over that aspect. Is this just the media hyping something or is there actually something significant going on here?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. pervect

    pervect 7,947
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Re: FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    I'd say that there is a lot of hype going on there, but there could be some potentially useful theoretical physics there too, it's just buried under tons-of-hype.

    http://www.icarusinterstellar.org/daydreaming-beyond-the-solar-system-with-warp-field-mechanics/

    had a little more. I have no idea of what they might be doing with lasers, though. The closest we've come to exotic matter as far as I know is the Casimir effect.

    Apparently the paper was presented at some conference, but I haven't been able to track it down.

    It is an improvement to only need a space-probe sized mass of something we don't have than a Jupiter-sized mass of something we don't have, but unless we actually have exotic matter , it seems like a moot issue.
     
  4. JesseM

    JesseM 8,491
    Science Advisor

    Re: FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    As I mentioned on the other locked thread, a paper by Harold White (the main guy behind this research apparently) can be found here:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015936_2011016932.pdf

    And sanman linked to another paper:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110023492_2011024705.pdf

    Not sure if some papers on the NASA website are sufficient to meet Physicsforums requirement of published research though (the other thread was locked for a lack of published research, but it's possible the mod just didn't notice these links among all the discussion).
    Well, the diagram on p. 8 of the second link above includes a "toroid capacitor ring", and parallel plates (like in a capacitor) are used to generate the Casimir vacuum, so without understanding the papers in detail, I would speculate that the capacitor is used to generate the necessary "exotic" energy densities, and the laser is used to detect a warp bubble rather than generate it (the diagram also has a caption reading "presence of warp field regions will induce relative phase shift between split beams that should be detectable provided magnitude of phase shift is sufficient").
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  5. Re: FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    Can such capacitors create negative energy densities?
     
  6. JesseM

    JesseM 8,491
    Science Advisor

    Re: FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    If it's some kind of parallel-plate capacitor, and if the distance between the plates is small enough, it should be able to--that's the Casimir effect.
     
  7. Re: FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    So really, this experiment is about whether the cassimir effect can warp space time. It seems odd then that the articles focus so much on the energy requirement for some kind of exotic matter that isn't being used in the experiment and insofar as we know, doesn't exist.
     
  8. JesseM

    JesseM 8,491
    Science Advisor

    Re: FTL "warp" experiments: Media hype or significant?

    The Casimir vacuum is the exotic matter--the phrase "exotic matter" is a general one doesn't presuppose "matter" in the sense of a collection of particles of some kind.
     
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