Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Technology => Topic started by: chris on 11/08/2017 10:07:59

Title: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: chris on 11/08/2017 10:07:59
Abstract Manner tweeted @nakedscientists to ask:

What would be required for understanding in theoretical physics and propulsion engineering to build a warp drive that works? TY.

What do you think?
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: alancalverd on 11/08/2017 20:33:49
First requirement: define "warp drive".

Many of the terms used in Star Trek scripts were invented to cover for the very low budget, which did not run to special effects and CGI. Pretty much everything you saw in Series 1 used the same technology as Buster Keaton - optical effects, tape splicing (OK, Keaton used film, but it's still analog images and razor blades), and jump cuts linked by dialogue. So although you heard them energise the dilithium crystals and engage warp drive, what you actually saw was a dissolve to some different cardboard scenery.

The "communicator" is widely believed to be the precursor of the mobile phone, but it clearly isn't, since cellphones require a lot of infrastructure which obviously doesn't exist in strange new worlds where no man has gone before. Citizens Band walkie talkies work anywhere, of course, but weren't futuristic. The use of powder compacts or cigarette cases probably  led to the flip phone, however.

Interestingly, the budget for Red Dwarf ran to a model landing craft, which crashed into various model planets over the years, but Star Trek couldn't even afford that, so they introduced the "transporter" - basic stage lighting and an optical dissolve to the location set (a quarry, just like 2001). Occasional transporter malfunctions had been presaged by The Fly about 30 years earlier.     

Star Trek was a work of pure Hollywood genius (even the music) but has as much relationship to physics and engineering as Henry V has to the battle of Kursk "For 'tis your thoughts that now must dress our kings. Carry them here and here, jumping o'er times...."

I still wonder what stroke of madness placed a hand grenade in Nichelle Nichols' ear, but apparently she went on to work with NASA, so it was inspirational.   
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: Kryptid on 12/08/2017 00:29:53
You would need some way to make relatively undistorted space contract and expand at will in the desired locations relative to your ship and then let the space spring back to normal when you were done travelling. I don't know how you would do such a thing.
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: evan_au on 12/08/2017 03:43:38
Quantum teleportation has been demonstrated in the lab, where the state of a particle has been transmitted from one place to another. But so far they have only succeeded with invisibly small structures.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_teleportation

NASA scientists have looked into the hypothetical Alcubierre drive. With current understanding, it would take an enormous amount of energy to create such a field, and move it where you wanted it - if it were possible at all.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity allows for the possibility of wormholes, which would allow for a "short cut" to travel between distant points in space. With current understanding, it requires a black hole, and it might be possible to hold it open using a negative mass - if such a thing existed.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormhole

It is possible that a rapidly rotating black hole may not form a point singularity, but might form a singularity which is a donut shape. In theory, it might be possible to pass through the center of the ring.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_singularity

None of them has yet demonstrated the ability to move a human-sized load over any significant distance, so you would have to say that it is interesting, but practical application depends on a knowledge and application of physics that does not exist at this time.
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: chris on 12/08/2017 09:17:50
It is possible that a rapidly rotating black hole may not form a point singularity, but might form a singularity which is a donut shape. In theory, it might be possible to pass through the center of the ring.

How would we know what was on the other side and whether such a journey had been successful?
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: jeffreyH on 12/08/2017 11:04:45
We would need observational data on the object called spacetime actually being bent. Spacetime is a mathematical entity. Whether or not it is a physical entity is another matter entirely. Of course the time component of spacetime has shown to be malleable due to change in velocity. What about the space component?
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: alancalverd on 12/08/2017 12:28:37
It is possible that a rapidly rotating black hole may not form a point singularity, but might form a singularity which is a donut shape. In theory, it might be possible to pass through the center of the ring.

How would we know what was on the other side and whether such a journey had been successful?
By being there!
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: evan_au on 12/08/2017 23:42:15
Quote from: chris
How would we know what was on the other side and whether such a journey had been successful?
Some of the theoretical ideas around wormholes and ring singularities suggest that they may be one-way trips.

You could try sending someone through, but they would not be able to return to their starting point - any attempt to return would send them somewhere far away in space and time. Some suggest that the other side may be in a different universe that you could not reach with a conventional rocket.

For such a hypothetical journey, you would be asking for volunteers for a 1-way trip. Or send an AI with no choice.
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: jeffreyH on 13/08/2017 18:06:28
We have to always bear in mind that mathematical models that are not supported by observational evidence may be giving incorrect results. The most astonishing thing in science has to be that the developers of relativity theory did so purely theoretically and only later had observational confirmation. We later had something similar with the 8 fold way in particle physics. This can lead to a false sense of security in theoretical physics.
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: tkadm30 on 28/11/2017 09:49:16
To build a "warp drive" you need to incorporate quantum mechanics into general relativity.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: jeffreyH on 28/11/2017 17:46:35
To build a "warp drive" you need to incorporate quantum mechanics into general relativity.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

So how are you going to accomplish this feat?
Title: Re: What would be required to build a warp drive that works?
Post by: tkadm30 on 29/11/2017 22:01:38
To build a "warp drive" you need to incorporate quantum mechanics into general relativity.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

So how are you going to accomplish this feat?

Probably by demonstrating mathematically that E=mc2 is not valid inside a blackhole.

See: https://www.quora.com/Would-e-mc-2-be-valid-in-a-black-hole