Imagine: you've traveled all the way across the galaxy to some faraway, potentially life-embracing planet orbiting a faraway star, only to obliterate your destination upon arrival. It's a very real threat according to few physicists at the University of Sydney. It turns out that a spacecraft emerging from a so-called Alcubierre warp drive does so quite violently, releasing an accumulation of high energy particles that would annihilate anything in their path.
The Alcubierre warp drive--proposed by a Mexican physicist of the same name back in the 1990s--is a theoretical mechanism by which a spacecraft could deform the space-time continuum in a bubble around itself so it could travel faster than the speed of light while still staying within the parameters of special relativity. So a couple of honors students and their professor at the U. of Sydney School of Physics decided to take the Alcubierre warp drive for a theoretical spin. Their findings: there's no soft landing at the other end of warp speed.
It turns out that bending the space-time continuum has its hazards. During faster-than-light travel, particles that come in contact with this Alcubierre bubble get trapped and accumulate in front it. Some particles can even enter the warp bubble. There is an aggregating effect here, the physicists found, so the longer the bubble travels, the more particles accumulate in front of it.
When the spacecraft is finally decelerated at its destination, that energy is released all at once with such high energy that virtually anything they come in contact with would be instantly destroyed. The particles that wormed their way inside the bubble could also threaten the spacecraft itself. This could be handy if your cruiser drops out of warp speed in the midst of an asteroid field, but it also means that if you dropped out of warp too close to your destination planet you could inadvertently wipe it off the interstellar map. Don't tell The Galactic Empire.
Come on people just use some kind of wind shield wiper, duh!!!
could be quite a weapon in a faster than light war, we need to get over all this war crap before we travel to the stars, cheers
ughhh.... we've already gone over this at DVICE.
You must assume that any society sufficiently advanced to (1) build and (2) power an Alcubierre (Warp) Drive has thought of this issue. Their options would be to:
(1) Absorb those particles. Using Star Trek as an example, this is accomplished with Bussard Collectors.
(2) Repel those particles. Again, using Star Trek, the Deflector Dish/Array accomplishes this task.
(3) Neutralize those particles. Last time, the Deflector Dish/Array in the Star Trek universe accomplishes this task.
In Star Trek, most of the time vehicles couldn't go to Impulse Drive, let alone warp, if the deflector array was inoperable. The Bussard Collectors weren't always a necessity, and were rarely (if ever) mentioned even in Voyager.
Lastly, there are other ways of moving FTL. Alcubierre Drive is one very good way that happens to be supported by actual scientists. But other theories have been floated that could get the job done, potentially without even needing a deflector array, and at much lower energies than the Alcubierre (Warp) drive requires. I guess we're talking Warp 10 v. Warp 1-9.9
@lawsonrw - In the Star Trek Universe, Warp 10 = being in every place in the universe at once (except in the last episode of TNG when they went Warp 13, whoops). I also found this one funny... In the movie, First Contact, the crew destroyed the deflector dish assembly to prevent the Borg from contacting their kin, yet at the end of the film, somehow the Enterprise is shown returning to their time (without using the deflector to enter the gravity well. How? :P).
In space, no one can hear a tree fall in the forest.
Like Lawrence Krauss wrote in his "Physics of Star Trek" book, we have to come to terms with the right side of the equation for Einstein's General Relativity. The kind and distribution of matter/energy required to make these designer spacetime configurations that, in principle, allows for "warp" travel, are not yet known to be physically possible. It may be physically possible. But, it may not.
If it turns out that we discover how to create, or attain, and maintain that exotic matter/energy distribution, perhaps the research leading to that discovery may also reveal clues on solving problems like this and other problems that have been pointed out since Miguel Alcubierre first worked out the field equations for "warp" drive. However, if the exotic matter/energy and/or its distribution turns out to not be physical, then studies like this won't mean much.
Like Krauss, I'm skeptical -- a skepticism based on what is currently known. But, it is the very fact that my skepticism is based only what is currently known that leads me to remain optimistic over the awesome possibilities.
YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!!!
This is not an engine problem. This is an Engineering problem. One that I'm certain, if we had the tech, could be easily fixed.
one thing I will say is THANK YOU POPSCI for doing a story on this. The more people who know about it the more people who'll learn about it.
in 100 years, who knows!?
Why couldn't the ship make many, many FTL hops to prevent accumulation to dangerous levels? Assuming of course there is a short enough span of travel that is safe and is still practical.
Warp drive is meant for interstellar travel. What if it had to begun in the emptiness of space and end in the emptiness of space just before the destination and then slowly approach it. Would this work?? It would loose all the highly charged particles in the space before entering the atmosphere of a life source??
i'm with apoca on this one, humans will never stop fighting among ourselves as long as there are two people in existence we will fight.unless they happen to have good chemistry but that's for another discussion.
in all seriousness though i think that we will find a way around this problem and just about every other problem that we come up against.
to mars or bust!
This is a VERY SMALL problem compared to how to make a working Alcubierre warp drive itself...or ANY working method of FTL travel.
Heres one idea, not from star trek but real life science. Bring antimatter with you with a sophisticated control/release method. As particles of matter accumulate, release antimatter to destroy them. If they are destroyed one by one or realatively few at at time, it should be un harmful to the ship/warp bubble/etc.
Should work... if the particles could get in the bubble, the antimatter particles should be able to get out.
Well @kushsmoker420, the same can be said for most scientific experiments. Theoretical or otherwise all facits must be considered.
~as for antimatter, its instability in the presence of matter would make it too dangerous to use as a catalyst for detering the H particles in outter space. Let alone the almost 1:1 energy output created against the bubble which in this case would push in the oposite direction of the vessel
isnt this an old article from i09.... anyway
Their are MUCH easier solutions that would work with all the engineering.
Simply aim your arriveal AWAY from anything. I mean really. do you stand under a rocket when it takes off? of course not.
so there are number of things we could. First off arrive "parallel" or even just facing "outwards" of a solar system so all the particles would harmlessly be shot into "empty" space. (sorry for all the quotes, but the terms I am using are fairly relative). You could also just aim you starship at the sun. You could probably get plenty close enough, since you would have to have some kind of magnetic sheild array that any all particles would harmless go into the system star.
but yeah. if we can build a warpdrive, I am sure we can build a system to absorb the particles as well...
Hey... I mean the first few HUNDRED cars didn't even have breaks!!!! and automobiles have come quite far since then.
By the time we develop alcubierre drive we will have solved this problem, so it doesn't matter anyway
Yeah.. why bother thinking about this now, someone else in the future will figure it out. (sarcasm)
It's always better to start understanding a problem early one, even if the tech does not exist, if you fully grasp the idea of the wheel, before you can create a wheel, that whole trial and error phase gets shortened to the bare minimum.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
I think they should just go ahead and develop neutrinos faster than light, output engines!
Science sees no further than what it can sense, i.e. facts.
Religion sees beyond the senses, i.e. faith.
I was under the impression the particles would disperse in all directions. I don't think it's like slamming on your brakes and watching the snow slide off your roof. In this case, just "not aiming at the target" wouldn't help.
If it can't be handled mid flight, then some manner of shield (either sent before the FTL flight so the FTL ship can drop out behind it and destroy it and not the place of interest, OR some floating space junk/rock) could maybe block the desired target. Fun part would be lining those up with the instant you drop from FTL. Have fun making those calculations with the time dilation and all. lol
I like tangents. I like day dreaming. I like fantasying. I like sometimes breaking things to see what happens and then to fix it and make it better. I like ignorance and to prove all others wrong! I even like stubbornness in the face of adversity. I love and adore faith!
Oh to believe! Happy sigh! :)
Science sees no further than what it can sense, i.e. facts.
Religion sees beyond the senses, i.e. faith.
Gee ...now ya gotta rewrite all the star trek episodes!
Yeah, seems to me that you'd be encountering and pushing a huge wave of electrons as you go, plus the drag. So you'd travel with a steadily increasing resistance the faster you go. Personally; I think that FTL theories might be best put on hold till we can at least move a true object to C. We did not break the sound barrier until we had a jet that could actually keep a pilot alive long enough to approach it. Imagine popping back into normal spacetime with DOUBLE your electron mass.
@quasi44 - it is theoretically impossible for anything with mass to go move at the speed of light...C You would need an infinite ammount of energy (more than makes up the entire universe)
So... No we should not try to do something that is theoretically impossible before we try and do something theoretically possible.... especially when the latter is FAR better.
Sorry Kush, but we were both wrong. I left in one guy's craft in ten or eleven years or so. Just got back a couple minutes ago, but I think I lost most of my trip memories a bit too close to this neato binary black hole system. Somewhere along the line I remember waking up wearing a cold-weather coveralls, a brand new Hula-Hoop and drywall stilts...so THAT proves it really happened.
why not just come out of warp far enough away to not destroy the planet? We would have to make impulse engines any way, so as long as we don't have any of the particles inside the ship we would just have to jump in on the edge of the solar system
We could produce a vehicle capable of interstellar travel in much less than 100 years. But to do so, we need LESS "big science" egghead physics and MORE down-to-earth practical knowhow possessed by engineers and hobbyists.
At one time I tried to find people who would be interested in constructing a Model T version of a self-levitating vehicle. I contacted laid-off engineers and even a UFO investigations group. I proposed using high voltage monopolar pulsed electric fields with asymmetric time derivatives in a prototype to merely illustrate the principles. Such fields are easy and inexpensive to produce, and there are historical reasons for choosing them.
But there was no interest whatsoever.
Some food for thought:
Brian Fraser, Scottsdale, Arizona
The solution is obvious; pulse modulate the warp drive. During the 'off' phase, particle accumulation would be released.
OK probably a simple solution to this problem. First of all, any solid object traveling at light speed, would most likely cause a disruption in local space. Whatever particles were trapped in the field would be obliterated upon emergence from light speed travel. Second, a deceleration maneuver would still be needed to reduce the spacecrafts speed in order to rendezvous with any object in space. So a deceleration in a safe direction aimed at a star perhaps would eliminate such risks.
THE NEW EVIDENCES FROM SOLAR SPECTRA ON FASTER THAN LIGHT:
M.A. Padmanabha Rao,Discovery of superluminal velocities of X-rays and Bharat Radiation challenging the validity of Einstein’s formula E= mc^2, IOSR Journal of Applied Physics (IOSR-JAP), .Volume 4, Issue 4 (Sep. - Oct. 2013), PP 08-14
Abstract: The current paper reports discovery of superluminal velocities of X-rays, and Bharat Radiation in 12.87 to 31 nm range from solar spectra. The discovery challenges the 100 year old Albert Einstein’s assertion that nothing can go faster than velocity of light c in vacuum while formulating E = mc^2 in his special theory of relativity reported in 1905. Several solar spectra recorded at various wavelengths by Woods et al in 2011 demonstrated GOES X-rays arriving earlier than 13.5 nm emission, which in turn arriving earlier than 33.5 nm emission. Finally, the investigators faced difficulty in concluding that short wavelengths traveled fast because of lack of information whether all the three emissions originated from the same source and at the same time. Very recently the author has reported GOES X-rays (7.0 nm) cause 13.5 nm (Bharat Radiation), which in turn causes 33.5 nm Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) emission from same excited atoms present in solar flare by Padmanabha Rao Effect. Based on these findings, the author succeeded in explaining how the solar spectral findings provide direct evidences on superluminal velocities of GOES X-ray and 13.5 nm Bharat Radiation emissions, when 33.5 nm EUV emission is considered travelling at velocity of light c. Among X-ray wavelengths, the short wavelength 7.0 nm X-rays traveled faster than 9.4 nm X-rays, while X-rays go at superluminal velocities. Among Bharat radiation wavelengths, short wavelengths showed fast travel, while Bharat Radiation goes at superluminal velocities as compared to 33.5 EUV emission.
In many a SF story involving warp drive, there has been tyhe caution that the ship should not come out of drive near a planetary body or even a solar system. Maybe that would be a fix
You don't need to do anything exotic to deal with this; you simply need to drop the warp field far enough away (and at the appropriate vector) for it not to be an issue. Have NONE of you read science fiction that addresses this very issues, for heavens' sake?! lol