Skip to main content

Hold on to your hat: NASA may just have discovered warp drive!

Einstein said it, and physicists everywhere take it as gospel: nothing can travel faster than light. To simply reach C, as the speed of light is known, infinite energy would be required. Also, time slows down as C is approached to the point at which finally burning that last drop of fuel would literally take forever.

Given the distances other stars are from us, this is kind of a bummer. At the fastest speeds we're likely to reach, it would take lifetimes to reach more than a handful of the closest stars.

So if interstellar travel is ever going to be possible, we're going to have to cheat. Two iconic television programs used two different theoretical approaches to doing that. Einstein also predicted the existence of wormholes, also known as "Einstein-Rosen bridges." These are temporary flaws in space/time  Einstein thought must occur naturally. However, they've never been actually observed.

If wormholes do, in fact, exist, entering one would result in emerging at some random point in space perhaps hundreds of light-years away. There are problems, though. For one thing, naturally-occurring wormholes are thought only to exist for a fraction of a second. For another, a method of interstellar travel which deposited you at some unpredictable destination an unpredictable but probably humungous distance away with no reliable way of getting home isn't very practical. But if a way could be found to create artificial, stable wormholes leading to predictable places, the problem of interstellar flight would be solved. Unbelievable distances could be covered almost instantly. These artificial wormholes are the "jump gates" of "Babylon 5."

"Star Trek" uses warp drive. Essentially this is a method of cheating the cosmic speed limit by not moving the ship, but rather my moving the space around the ship. Inside the "warp bubble," the ship itself would continue to travel at sub-light speeds. But there is no restriction on the speed that space itself can move.

As crazy as this sounds, a Mexican physicist named Miguel Alcubierre has demonstrated that it's theoretically possible. The drawback to what has come to be known as Alcubierre Drive is that it would require infinite energy.

But a decade ago an aerospace engineer called Roger Shawyer made a controversial discovery: a kind of electric drive utilizing microwaves which according to conventional physics shouldn't even work, but which in fact seems capable of propelling objects to unbelievable speeds. Even more incredibly, it doesn't even require fuel! Theoretically, it could travel forever, never having to "fill the gas tank!" Even Star Trek's warp drive required "dilithium crystals." But not Sawyer's EM drive!

Skepticism among American scientists was so great that it was China that first tested the EM concept- successfully. It remains controversial even though the same result has been obtained in American experiments.



But it gets better. NASA engineer Harold White has been working for several years on the creation of a practical warp drive. In cooperation with designer Mark Rademaker, White has produced a CGI design for what they call the IXS Enterprise, a real-life, honest-to-goodness warp ship.

Apparently, the EM drive generates particles which seem to travel faster than the speed of light. To be honest, I don't understand the physics at all. But apparently, White's design,  utilizing rings around the ship to generate the warp bubble and employing the EM drive, reduces the amount of energy necessary to generate a warp bubble to a still unmanageable but less intimidating quantities.

Or not. In  experimenting with the EM drive, NASA may have just accidentally generated a warp bubble!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

McMullin, Kasich, Hickenlooper, Huntsman, or somebody else sane in 2020!

I don't expect to be disenfranchised in 2020. I'm looking forward to Evan McMullin running against President Trump and whatever left-wing extremist the Democrats nominate. McMullin may or may not run for the Senate next year, and he may or may not run for president as an independent again next time around, but the nation can't afford to lose its most eloquent and intelligent critic of the populist takeover of the Republican party and the Executive Branch. We need the man in public life.

But interesting alternatives have developed. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been mentioned as a potential primary challenger for Mr. Trump. I hope somebody continues the fight for the soul of my former party, even though I believe it to be a lost cause. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is reportedly also considering a challenge to Mr. Trump. While I tend to see him at this point as somewhere to the left of where a candidate I would feel comfortable supporting might be, I would wish him well. Still, I see…

A modest proposal for a shocking innovation which is completely within the rules but which would, if adopted, revolutionize college football

I call it defense.

The idea- crazy as it may sound- is to supplement the scoring of points by your offense with an attempt to stop the other team from scoring them. Yeah, I know.  Really "out there," isn't it? But it has a history of winning not only games but championships. Modern college teams should try it more.

I'm a bit bummed about the Rose Bowl outcome but amused by the score. It seems that certain conferences aren't sure whether they're playing college football or high school basketball! I've noticed that in the scores of Sooner games. Last season the nation's college teams set a record by scoring an average of slightly more than 30 points each per game. That's a lot. Historically, that's a REAL lot.

The final score of the Rose Bowl was 54-48, though to be fair that was in double overtime. But to get there, the teams had to be tied 45-45 at the end of regulation! Last year was even worse. Southern Cal beat Penn State 52-49- in regulat…

A third party President in 2020?

I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Searsby, the campaign manager for Evan McMullin last year, at an event for Evan here in Des Moines during the campaign. Here's an interview with Joel by Jon Ward of Yahoo News on the ways in which centrist French President Emmanuel Marcon's out-of-nowhere landslide election last year may serve as an example for the inevitable bid to elect a rational, moderate third party candidate in 2020.

I have a feeling that it will be Evan McMullin again. But names like John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, and Sen. Lindsey Graham also keep popping up. Word is that Kasich may challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, an endeavor in which I'd wish him well but hold out very, very little hope for his success. I sadly expect that my conviction that the Republicans are dead as a vehicle for rationality and the reuniting of our fractured and divided country to be confirmed by the easy renomination of the most unfit and unqualified preside…