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The problem of warp drive

  1. Apr 25, 2005 #1
    Einstein predicted that all matter distorts spacetime, the greater the size in matter, the greater the distortion. In the science fictional world of Star Trek, the starship Enterprise can travel vast distances by warping space with its warp nacelles. Dr. Michio Kaku's excellent book, "Hyperspace" explains that the the key to warp drive is by harnessing an enormous amount of energy like that of an entire star, with the aid of negative energy. Let's say that you wanted to get from one side of a rug to the other, and instead of walking across, you used a big hook to pull the other side of the rug close to you. Then you just stepped over. Sort of like those walking treadmill panels you see at the airport. Hence, to warp spacetime, you will need gravitational forces equal to the masses of many, many solar systems.

    1) But one major problem with the warp drive is, how can a starship weighing only several tons generate a mass several times its own magnitude, when objects such as the earth and the sun warps space with very little results?

    And even if it were possible, one runs into the very severe risk of generating a singularity in spacetime, i.e. a black hole. For this to work negative energy is required for the warp drive. Thereby from a physical point of view this makes the warp drive look even more unrealistic.

    2) Perhaps the jump gates of Babylon 5 is the best way to go?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2005 #2
    You can use field distortion rather than negative energy for both warp drive and jump gates.

  4. Apr 25, 2005 #3


  5. Apr 25, 2005 #4
    Hi Whitestar,

    This is just my opinion, but I believe that you can use a combination of dynamic electric, magnetic and gravitational fields/waves to change the local properties of the vaccuum field. This would allow the generator of such field distortions to move FTL.

    I believe that a similar solution exists for wormhole gates.

  6. Apr 27, 2005 #5


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    Star Trek makes no reference to so-called "negative energy". Their
    writers didn't fall for that bit of contemporary nonsense. Their
    starships derived their energy from matter / anti-matter reactors.

    The jump gates of Babylon 5 have just as many scientific problems as
    do warp engines.

    That's why it's called science FICTION.

    I'm a science fiction fan too - but I don't look for the solutions of
    scientific problems in the fantasies of science fiction writers.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  7. Apr 27, 2005 #6


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    In what way nonsense?
  8. Apr 28, 2005 #7
    :grumpy: That's right, go on and dash all their dreams. That'll convince them to become the next generation astrophysicists. Nothing wrong with a little flight of fancy once in a while. Beats the tedium of real physics any day.
  9. May 4, 2005 #8
    In sci fi, the answer lies with "gravity generators". Something that can turn energy into gravity and possibly direct it in a given direction.

    There is nothing in physics that prevents one form of energy from being converted into another form of energy, or into any form of matter, for that matter. We just don't know how to do it yet.
  10. May 6, 2005 #9
    I believe that the singularity that physicists describe within black holes is merely their lack of understanding of natural physics. It is said that the singularity is a point of infinite energy and density, thus infinite warping of space and time. But infinities are nonsensical. In real life, infinities most likely do not occur. It is more probable that the singularity simply cannot be explained right now by relativity or quantum mechanics because they in themselves are incomplete. Until a unified picture is given, then physicists can start giving solid, discrete depictions of what's really inside a black hole. This is why in the glossary of Kip Thorne's book, Black Holes & Time Warps, Kip Thorne describes the singularity as:

    According to relativity the only way to create a wormhole (i.e., passage used in the process of hyperspatial travel) is to create a black hole. A black hole is necessary in order to create what is know as the "traversable wormhole." Then, according to quantum mechanics, there may be numerous microscopic wormholes opening and closing all the time within the fabric of spacetime, just that they are too small to see or do much with. I think that the utilization of a spinning black hole would be the best route to take. Quantum gravity would probably give a better take on the issue.

    A highly advanced civilization would probably know how to create high-energy outputs using some form of technology (such as using naturally-occurring antimatter with matter). Since mass is the same as condensed energy, they would only need to concentrate an exceedingly high energy output into a small space.

    How is negative energy (i.e., "exotic matter") contemporary nonsense? In Black Holes & Time Warps by Kip Thorne, Thorn explains that exotic matter is required to keep a wormhole open, any wormhole. Kip Thorne further explains that negative energy may be found from "vacuum fluctuations near a hole's horizon" in quantum foam.

    It's also noted in Hyperspace that this "exotic matter" may also be found between two parallel metal plates due to the Casimir effect.

    I've been wondering about that. How would a gravity generator be created? Since matter is the same thing as "energy," does the term "energy" apply to all types of "energy," including electromagnetic energy, gravitational energy, and even neutrinos? Would it be correct to say that electromagnetic energy has the ability to "warp" spacetime, since matter “warps“ spacetime and matter is the same thing as electromagnetic energy? Or is this question simply flawed?
  11. May 6, 2005 #10
    Perhaps the question is based upon a flawed premise. Energy is energy no matter what form it happens to be in. Energy can be manipulated, directed, transformed from one form to another. We do it all the time with toasters, engines, steam, hydraulics, and nuclear reactors. Chemical reactions are just another form of energy manipulation, shaped charges and guns are merely a crude method of directing energy; as is internal combustion, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc..

    How would I create gravity without using mass as my source? I would find a way of producing gravitons artificially, if indeed they exist. Let's assume that string theory is on the right track. It claims mass and gravity is purely a matter of geometry. Perhaps there is a hypergeometric shape that produces gravitons without producing mass (which are supposed to be two different things anyway). If there is, then producing gravitons is merely a matter of changing the hypergeometry of a small volume of space. Obviously, the energy requirement of changing the geometry of an ever larger volume of space would increase by the cube+n dimentions. 11 dimentional space would cause the energy required to increase by the 11th degree; a pretty steep curve. Fortunately, we don't need to change the geometry of that much space if we can direct the gravitons; which, if they really are a subatomic particle, is theoretically possible. Consider it a gaser.
    So we shoot our newly created, and quite economical, gaser ahead of ourselves. The diameter of the gazer need only be as large as the volumetric cross section of the object we are trying to move and the energy put into it would determine how far ahead of ourselves we shall warp space toward us. Once we've warped the next million or so meters ahead of us into a few meters, it's a simple matter of standard propulsion to get us there.

    And it all seems so simple.....

    Now the question remains, should we be behind it when we fire it off or in front of it?
    Last edited: May 6, 2005
  12. May 7, 2005 #11
    How would someone go about actually changing the geometry of a small volume of space in such a manner? Manipulating the geometry of gravity isn't the same as manipulating the geometry of electromagnetism.
  13. May 8, 2005 #12
    The problem of warp drive - metric distortion

    When once we needed a magnet, it was necessary to find a large piece of lodestone - which exhibited a weak static magnetic field. To vary the amount of magnetism available within an experiment, one could move the lodestone closer or farther away, or break the stone apart and remove a portion thereof. It was only when it was discovered that a moving current could generate a magnetic field (without all that pesky lodestone) that the field of electronics and its kin could evolve.

    Currently, if one wishes to distort the spaciotemporal metric, it is necessary to locate a large mass. To vary the amount of metric distortion available within an experiment, one could move the mass closer or farther away, or break the mass apart and remove a portion thereof. We need only discover the proper device configuration to turn on/off the desired gradient without all that pesky mass, in order to create a similar revolutionary field.

    Once we develop the technology to distort the local metric, a gradient established in front of an object (front meaning the direction of desired motion). Acceleration can then be derived by allowing the object to "fall towards" this gradient, while the apparatus attached to the object then continues to move the locus of this distortion to remain the same distance ahead. This does not require the science fiction singularity level metric change, as a very minute level of constant acceleration can add up over time to a tremendous rate of travel.

    Just a few personal thoughts on the matter.

    K Hausman
  14. May 11, 2005 #13
    I have no idea.
  15. May 17, 2005 #14
    I found a couple quotes from Parallel Worlds concerning gravity and electromagnetism:

    Might this indicate that gravity can be formed from the condensation and compression of energy?
  16. May 23, 2005 #15
    I have an idea.

    Now I have 2 !
  17. May 26, 2005 #16
    gravity control

    This reminds me of a post I was reading about gravity control at http:// talking about the modulation of energy to increase and decrease gravitational and electromagnetic potential that might be of interest.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  18. May 30, 2005 #17
    Would any of you be interested in looking at an idea I have for a propulsion system?
    Send an email.
  19. May 30, 2005 #18


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    Are you saying there is no such thing as negative energy?
    In 1948 the Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir showed that 2 closely facing electrically conducting silver plates produced a negative energy field in the vacuum between them.
    This is not science fiction..
  20. May 30, 2005 #19
  21. May 31, 2005 #20
    That gap between 2 plane mirrors looks like hez about to diliver a stern lecture. And in my opinion, A well deserved one!
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