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Warp drive may become more science than science fiction.


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#21 RulerOfNothing   Members   -  Reputation: 1160

Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:04 AM

So, you don't need a creepy spice-addicted mutant pilot swimming around in a chamber to bend space?

Maybe you do. The thing is, the 'exotic matter' that an Alcubierre drive requires is matter which has negative mass (This should not be confused with antimatter, which has positive mass like normal matter). Since none of our experiments have managed to find any matter with negative mass, I do not think we will be seeing this particular kind of propulsion system anytime soon.

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#22 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8580

Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:38 AM

Maybe you do. The thing is, the 'exotic matter' that an Alcubierre drive requires is matter which has negative mass (This should not be confused with antimatter, which has positive mass like normal matter). Since none of our experiments have managed to find any matter with negative mass, I do not think we will be seeing this particular kind of propulsion system anytime soon.

Things are only impossible till they're not, though. I don't think an 18th century scientist would have been able to even conceive the recent advances of modern physics. I do not doubt for one second that we'll find something - perhaps not warp drives, but something.

The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

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#23 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 856

Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:30 AM



i'm assuming that it needs to be at a constant output to maintain the warped space(although the article talks about oscillating could reduce the power needed), so that means the device powering it has to be capable of powering pretty much the entire world today...constantly.

I'm not sure what you mean by constant output - the amount given was a measurement of energy, not power, so using that amount of energy "constantly" makes no sense. Presumably it's a figure that is meant to entail a total amount of energy required, for whatever length of time they imagined would be required.

If it meant to be units of power, then the article messed up, and we have no idea what is actually meant (is that one voyager per second? One voyager per hour?)

I took the article to mean that you would need a consistant output of voyager's per second, but they never clearly state the duration that the energy must be maintained in comparison to the length of a trip. considering the device would be constantly warping space, then i'd imagine the energy output would need to be maintained over a long duration, or "constantly".

Though they also don't say what the time unit was - whether it was per second or what (seconds may be the SI unit, but given that we're measuring the energy in units of "voyagers", this isn't exactly SI in the first place:)).
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#24 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29567

Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:44 AM

Maybe you do. The thing is, the 'exotic matter' that an Alcubierre drive requires is matter which has negative mass (This should not be confused with antimatter, which has positive mass like normal matter). Since none of our experiments have managed to find any matter with negative mass, I do not think we will be seeing this particular kind of propulsion system anytime soon.

The drive has popped back up in the news because NASA scientists think they've refactored the design to require much less ridiculous amounts of energy, and they've actually begun a real experiment to test if they can create a positive/negative space-time warp bubble in the lab, right now, using something called a "White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer".

From my non-physicist googling -- it seems for a full-scale ship, they would want 500KG of undiscovered exotic matter with negative mass... however, for a small scale experiment, they can get by using existing known methods of generating regions of space with negative energy, such as the Casimir effect and squeezed light.

Edited by Hodgman, 20 September 2012 - 07:03 AM.


#25 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 752

Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:47 AM

With alchemy people tried to transform lead into gold, if they only had the exotic matter called philosopher's stone. Now we have nuclear reactors, with much more useful applications than producing gold, which in the end resulted too expensive to be interesting anyways. So by the time technology will be able to create useful space-time bubbles, we could have something better, like mining external planets to build a shell around the sun, that feeds a global virtual reality machine for us to live inside, thus making space-time travel irrelevant. The energy ejection of the sun could be controlled to automatically move to the next youngest star to replenish batteries, while we finally get on track with the Dark Flow and on our way to visit the next contiguous universe.
 

 


#26 mhagain   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7833

Posted 20 September 2012 - 09:08 AM

Well if the warp drive fails, we can always use cryogenic sleep pods with the sub light engine Posted Image


Nah, you re-route the power couplers through the auxillary fluxuators, cut in the backup, and hope that the dilithium crystals ("exotic matter"!) can take the strain.

Everybody knows that.

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#27 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2112

Posted 20 September 2012 - 09:19 AM

So, you don't need a creepy spice-addicted mutant pilot swimming around in a chamber to bend space?

No, you don't. you need the mutant to use it's limited prescience to avoid jumping into or too close to objects.

#28 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:38 AM

The thing is, the 'exotic matter' that an Alcubierre drive requires is matter which has negative mass (This should not be confused with antimatter, which has positive mass like normal matter).

**raises hand**

negative mass sounds just as imaginary (no pun intended) as negative numbers. So how does matter have negative mass and still actually exists?

Edited by Alpha_ProgDes, 20 September 2012 - 11:38 AM.

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#29 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

Posted 21 September 2012 - 06:26 AM

negative mass sounds just as imaginary (no pun intended) as negative numbers. So how does matter have negative mass and still actually exists?


Everything theoretical is imaginary. Otherwise it becomes actual.

#30 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

Posted 21 September 2012 - 07:36 AM

I guess Exotic Matter is not just a made up word.
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#31 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29567

Posted 21 September 2012 - 07:49 AM

negative mass sounds just as imaginary (no pun intended) as negative numbers. So how does matter have negative mass and still actually exists?

Wait. Imaginary numbers are just as real as real numbers (no pun intended either Posted Image), there's really nothing special about imaginary numbers that makes them any less "existent" than 'regular' numbers like 42.
[edit]Oh, I read that as "just as imaginary as imaginary numbers" -- replace "imaginary" with "negative" in my reply -- 42 and -42 are both just as logical a concept[/edit]

Particles with positive or negative charge exert a certain pull or push on other particles, via the electromagnetic field.
Likewise, particles with positive mass exert a certain pull on other particles, via the gravitational field. Although we've never observed a particle with negative mass, all the math behind the gravitational field still works if you plug in negative numbers (like it does for charge). So if we take the hypothesis that such a particle might exist, we can make a prediction what it's effects would be, even though we've never seen one.
It may be that such a thing doesn't exist, or that our predictions are wrong -- but that's still a current research topic with no definitive answers yet.

Everything theoretical is imaginary. Otherwise it becomes actual.

In science, "theory" means fact, and "hypothesis" means speculation. All we have are theoretical models. Which means nothing is actual and everything is imaginary!

It can be argued that there is no objective 'actual' reality and there is only pictures of reality as drawn by models.

Edited by Hodgman, 21 September 2012 - 07:54 AM.


#32 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

Posted 21 September 2012 - 08:33 AM

negative mass sounds just as imaginary (no pun intended) as negative numbers. So how does matter have negative mass and still actually exists?

Wait. Imaginary numbers are just as real as real numbers (no pun intended either Posted Image), there's really nothing special about imaginary numbers that makes them any less "existent" than 'regular' numbers like 42.
[edit]Oh, I read that as "just as imaginary as imaginary numbers" -- replace "imaginary" with "negative" in my reply -- 42 and -42 are both just as logical a concept[/edit]

As a concept, yes I agree. But in reality, if I have 5 apples, you can only take 5 apples. Not six and therefore leave me with -1 apple. See what I mean?

Particles with positive or negative charge exert a certain pull or push on other particles, via the electromagnetic field.
Likewise, particles with positive mass exert a certain pull on other particles, via the gravitational field. Although we've never observed a particle with negative mass, all the math behind the gravitational field still works if you plug in negative numbers (like it does for charge). So if we take the hypothesis that such a particle might exist, we can make a prediction what it's effects would be, even though we've never seen one.

Maybe it's my dealing with positive mass, but the idea of matter with negative mass actually existing is just weird to me.

Everything theoretical is imaginary. Otherwise it becomes actual.

In science, "theory" means fact, and "hypothesis" means speculation. All we have are theoretical models. Which means nothing is actual and everything is imaginary!

I thought "theory" means given a set of conditions this is shown to be true. Or until you prove this wrong, it's right.
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#33 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8580

Posted 21 September 2012 - 08:49 AM

I thought "theory" means given a set of conditions this is shown to be true. Or until you prove this wrong, it's right.

In general language, I would say "theory" agrees with your definition, but in science it is more strictly defined. A theory by definition can never be proved because there are no known physically based axioms to build proofs with - it can only be disproved (and then adjusted to account for exceptions, if applicable). So a theory is "a hypothesis that is heavily supported by experimental evidence, and assumed to be true, until shown otherwise". Also, there are other requirements, such as, a theory must be observable (you must be able to verify it through experiments), and you certainly need a significant amount of various experiments to support your hypothesis before you can call it a theory.

The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

- Pessimal Algorithms and Simplexity Analysis


#34 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29567

Posted 21 September 2012 - 08:50 AM

But in reality, if I have 5 apples, you can only take 5 apples. Not six and therefore leave me with -1 apple. See what I mean

Yeah, but this is just an application of numbers, it's not where the numbers themselves come from.
Yes, we started out by physical counting with examples like that, but then we realised that we didn't just invent a counting system, we'd discovered a deep system of logic, and we now call your "non-imagined" set of numbers the "natural numbers".

Also, the fact that you count the apples in multiples of "1" is just a convention. If we used a strange convention where we do everything the opposite way around, we can still count. I can say each apple is worth "-1" (and -1 + -1 + -1 + -1 + -1 == -5, so) you've got "-5" apples in this bizarro convention, and I take 4 of them (and taking an apple is worth "+1"), then "-5 + 4" leaves you with "-1" apple, which equates to 1 apple in the regular convention.

If you think of mass as just being another "named attribute" that a point can have, and charge is another "named attribute", then it's not so weird -- electricity is a flow of particles with negative charges. But we could just as well have called them "positive charges" or "up charges" or "strange charges", if different people had done the naming.
Or if you think of positive mass as something that sucks space-time in towards it (like a vacuum cleaner's nozzle against a bed-sheet), then 'negative mass' would be something that pushes space-time outwards (like a leaf-blower).

Or until you prove this wrong, it's right.

Yep, which makes it 'accepted fact'. There's no such thing as absolute fact (unless you're religious), so I'd just call it 'fact'. The theory that if you jump out a window, you will fall down, is a fact -- it could be disproved at any time, but it's pretty well accepted for the time being.

Edited by Hodgman, 21 September 2012 - 08:57 AM.


#35 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

Posted 21 September 2012 - 09:28 AM

Or if you think of positive mass as something that sucks space-time in towards it (like a vacuum cleaner's nozzle against a bed-sheet), then 'negative mass' would be something that pushes space-time outwards (like a leaf-blower).

So I guess Dark Matter has negative mass. Since in theory, it's pushing the universe outward.
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#36 darookie   Members   -  Reputation: 1437

Posted 22 September 2012 - 02:21 AM


Or if you think of positive mass as something that sucks space-time in towards it (like a vacuum cleaner's nozzle against a bed-sheet), then 'negative mass' would be something that pushes space-time outwards (like a leaf-blower).

So I guess Dark Matter has negative mass. Since in theory, it's pushing the universe outward.

That would be Dark Energy - Dark Matter - as the name implies - exerts the same gravitational effects on fabric of space time as ordinary matter. The only difference is that it seems to only interact with the rest of universe via gravitation.

#37 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:06 AM

Yep, which makes it 'accepted fact'.

Scientific laws are closer to fact than theory. A theory is just a verified hypothesis. The level of it's verification does not make it any more or less of a theory. String theory is a good example of a non-accepted fact that is still a theory.

There's no such thing as absolute fact (unless you're religious)

1. As a moderately religious catholic, I don't think there are very many facts in my faith. There are things I believe to be true, but I would not call them facts.
2. There are nobel prize winning scientists who are religious. I don't see why bringing up religion at all was necessary, but looking down on religious people by virtue of them being religious doesn't make you correct, it makes you an asshole; as it would with looking down on any group of people.

#38 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9865

Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:27 AM

I don't see why bringing up religion at all was necessary, but looking down on religious people by virtue of them being religious doesn't make you correct, it makes you an asshole; as it would with looking down on any group of people.

I am having a hard time assuming you aren't intentionally flame-baiting with that statement. If not, then you are completely missing the point:

- Science doesn't allow for the very concept of absolute truth. It's at best a philosophical ideal towards which we may strive.
- Faith, on the other hand, is founded on the concept that there is some absolute truth, and that even though it can never be scientifically validated, it is still 'truth'.

Hodgman's statement was in no way derogatory towards religion of religious individuals.

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#39 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:59 AM

I am having a hard time assuming you aren't intentionally flame-baiting with that statement. If not, then you are completely missing the point:

- Science doesn't allow for the very concept of absolute truth. It's at best a philosophical ideal towards which we may strive.
- Faith, on the other hand, is founded on the concept that there is some absolute truth, and that even though it can never be scientifically validated, it is still 'truth'.

I'm not flame baiting. I just don't find faith based truths to be facts because they are subjective/personal truths. Facts are objective truths.

For example, as a person of faith, I believe fully that there is a god, but I would not consider that god's existence a fact. If that makes sense?

The way it read to me was that religious people have different standards for what they would consider factual than scientists. Considering that there are many accomplished religious scientists, and that there are many religious people that hold science in a very high regard, I found it unnecessary to bring religion into contrast with science in that measure at all.

"There's no such thing as absolute fact (unless you're religious)," would be grossly offensive if you replace the word "religious" with any other identifier. I don't see why it being religion instead of sexuality, race, nationality, etc makes it less offensive.

Edited by way2lazy2care, 22 September 2012 - 11:00 AM.


#40 MarkS   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 882

Posted 22 September 2012 - 11:57 AM

I'm a theist, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out how or why religion wound up in this discussion! Why does this always have to happen? It doesn't matter which side of the religious argument you're on, someone is bound to throw a in jab. This time it was by a moderator!Posted Image Hodgman, intent aside, it was not necessary to mention.

I hate it when threads like this get closed because people cannot keep their religious opinions to themselves. This is about warp drive, not religion. Let's get back on topic. Please!




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