January 2006


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
Creative Commons License

Warp speed, Mr. Sulu!

Link purloined from Slasdot:
Scotsman.com News – Sci-Tech – Welcome to Mars express: only a three hour trip

AN EXTRAORDINARY “hyperspace” engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government.

The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today’s New Scientist magazine.

Considering how much sci-fi we watch, read and play around here, you can bet that a discussion has cropped up on several occasions regarding the possibility of Faster-Than-Light travel. Also considering that at least two of our regulars have spent serious amounts of time and effort understanding theoretical physics, you can guess that these have been extensive. Current ‘theory’, as applied to a role-playing game, is that FTL is possible, but the craft in question would need to come to a complete halt before engaging these drives, as the “hyperspace” it jumps into is extremely volotile, and momentum adds tons of uncertainty to initial navigation.

I should have thrown a “boring!” warning in at the front of this, eh?

Anyway, me being the fiendish fan of Space Opera that I am, this goes completely against my instincts. The idea of outrunning your pursuers long enough to get a good exit vector before applying that extra bit of thrust and kicking in the hyperdrives to escape pursuit is a long-standing tactic. Having to somehow get enough time together to drag the ship to a standstill is just…just wrong, you know?

“Ensign! Park this bucket so we can get the hell out of here!”
“Sorry, Sir – it’s lunch hour and the only space I can find is a loading zone!”

Okay, back to the article. How does the thing work?

The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.

Basically, (as I understand it – B will probably correct me) you project a magnetic field large enough and powerful enough to ‘attract’ your ship. Since the ship is projecting the field, though, it remains a constant distance, and you accelerate perpetually. You put out a big enough field, and you can eventually get moving right along.

Make that field even larger, and you may be able to ‘warp’ space-time enough to slip into another dimension – one where the speed of light is much higher than in our own. Einstein’s theories state that as an object approaches the speed of light, it’s mass will increase proportionally – so much so that it would take nearly all the available energy of the universe to accelerate a truck to c. Well, if light travelled faster, that would give you more legroom on the speedometer, right?

Well, however the theory goes, if it works I will dance a frigging jig. Good luck, boys!

Comments are closed.