Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say
A ring-shaped warp drive device could transport a football-shape starship (center) to effective speeds faster than light. The concept was first proposed by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre.
CREDIT: Harold White
CREDIT: Harold White
by Clara Moskowitz,
SPACE.com Assistant Managing Editor
A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre; however, subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.
Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.
"There is hope," Harold "Sonny" White of NASA's Johnson Space Center said at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the challenges of interstellar spaceflight.
An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind.
[Star Trek's Warp Drive: Are We There Yet? | Video]
Meanwhile, the starship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn't being warped at all.
"Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light," explained Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit group of scientists and engineers devoted to pursuing interstellar spaceflight. "But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light."
With this concept, the spacecraft would be able to achieve an effective speed of about 10 times the speed of light, all without breaking the cosmic speed limit.
The only problem is, previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter.
But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.
Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found.
"The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation," White told SPACE.com. "The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab."
White and his colleagues have begun experimenting with a mini version of the warp drive in their laboratory.
They set up what they call the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at the Johnson Space Center, essentially creating a laser interferometer that instigates micro versions of space-time warps.
"We're trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million," White said.
He called the project a "humble experiment" compared to what would be needed for a real warp drive, but said it represents a promising first step.
And other scientists stressed that even outlandish-sounding ideas, such as the warp drive, need to be considered if humanity is serious about traveling to other stars.
"If we're ever going to become a true spacefaring civilization, we're going to have to think outside the box a little bit, we're going to have to be a little bit audacious," Obousy said.
From Space @ http://www.space.com/17628-warp-drive-possible-interstellar-spaceflight.html
See the PDF @ http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015936_2011016932.pdf
Findings of NASA's Harold "Sonny" White Begin To Echo Marshall Barnes STDTS(TM) Research
In a paper presented at last year's 100-Year Starship Public Symposium, endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, elements of warp drive theory, previously the sole development of Marshall Barnes with his STDTS(TM) technology, were presented.
Little more than a month after Marshall appeared at the Mars Conference in Pasadena, California where he was encouraged to pursue the project, using his STDTS™ technology, that has become the successful Verdrehung Fan™ proto-time machine, the 100 Year Starship Public Symposium was held in Houston and endorsed by Bill Clinton. A paper presented there, in a startling development, echoes the documented STDTS™ research of Marshall, citing two key elements that have always been part of the STDTS™ description of warp drive - lower energy requirements for warp drive than previously expected as well as modulating the warp field.
These are all elements mentioned in numerous interviews given by Marshall on the subject of his warp drive prototype, especially, in his groundbreaking paper, Die Grundlagen Der Verzerrung Reise, published online April 19th, 2011( http://network.nature.com/
"The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation,"
The same article quotes Icarus Interstellar president, Richard Obousy as saying, "If we're ever going to become a true spacefaring civilization, we're going to have to think outside the box a little bit, we're going to have to be a little bit audacious."
"If that doesn't sound like me, I don't know what does," Marshall laughed. Marshall met with and interviewed Obousy for an audio documentary about his STDTS™ and warp drive physics, due out this year, at the Mars Conference is Grapvine, Texas in August of 2011. Marshall presented a paper based on Die Grundlagen Der Verzerring Reise, which is German for The Foundations of Distortion Travel, a reference to the fact that the term "warp" actually means "distortion"
Marshall is beyond the laboratory at this point and is actually planning on a variety of launch tests to see if the STDTS™ can help reduce fuel requirements for space launches. His plans include model rockets, balloons and eventually a custom made rocket/balloon combination that will deliver a rocket via ballon to the edge of space outside the Earth and then launch the rocket to see how far it will go with the STDTS™ technology switched on.
"I am not interested in working with Icarus, NASA or any other organization, at this time" Marshall commented, "because for me, this is a private business venture. I have sacrificed greatly, in many different ways, to get this technology developed commercially with no help from the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project or NIAC, which both had their funding cut before I could do anything with them. I hate dealing with bureaucracies and I'm not about to do it now. If NASA wants to buy it from me, they cut me a $500,000,000 check. I'm quite serious. $.5B and not a penny less. We've priced what this is worth and that's the selling price that would make sense at this stage. I know how to develop this without NASA involvement and even prove it in space, so the only way I'd get involved with them at this point is if they bought me out. If I prove that it works in space before hand, you can multiply that price by ten. And under no circumstances is this available to foreign entities."
At least one NASA scientist has seen gravity drop tests of the STDTS™ technology. NASA Kepler scientist Alan Gould, gave Marshall his card and permission to use his name as someone who had actually seen it at the 2010 USA Science and Engineering Festival where Marshall had been an exhibitor. Obousy saw it at the Mars conference, but wants to see it done differently and had difficulty understanding how the signal was divorced from the idea of sound.
"Richard kept connecting the signal idea to a sound being the cause," Marshall explained, "and finally I had to use the example of the sound of a modem dial up. I told him that you can hear the modem, but the sound of it isn't what gets you on the Internet. Besides, when the STDTS™ is in use, you don't hear it. There are no speakers involved. It can all be brought back to the fact that I'm an electronic synthesist, as in music synthesizers. In high school, I translated that into creating 3D oscilloscope art as part of electronics class. My approach comes from outside typical electromagnetic field theory, which is why I built the lab that I had. It was created to study exotic effects of exotic electromagnetic fields created by exotic means".
Marshall points out that by getting sponsorship funding, and through other commercially viable revenue streams, the STDTS™ warp drive project could make as much as $25,000,000 or more, and that's without using it with any other organization for space operations.
"The TV value alone, if we can get a unmanned probe to escape Earth's gravitational field, would be incredible. That's even after we do the Great Gravity Drop project which is worth around 25 mil. The unmanned probe through space could be a TV series, once a week, tune in and see what's happening as the craft flies on its way out of the solar system and beyond. It would be incredible. The ultimate reality show".
Marshall's extensive background in marketing, promotions and sponsorships, gives him the edge he needs to be able to go it alone, and also greatly simplifies the usual daunting task of financing space ventures for profit. That is something that the 100 Year Starship project will have to deal with.
Dave Neyland, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, was reported by Space.com as saying that the focus of the 100 Year Starship Project is to identify a mechanism that gets such a long-range project "out of the government, and make sure it is an energized and self-sustaining enterprise".
"Well, that puts them in direct competition with me." Marshall added. "I have an energized and self-sustaining enterprise now. I have a business model that doesn't require the government in order to succeed. And I have a technology that is the key to both space travel and time travel. So not only am I ahead of Ronald Mallett, in the time machine area, I'm ahead of the 100 Year Starship, but I already knew that".
Marshall points out that he's not trying to focus on manned flight, which would require all kinds of additional tests and involvement with many other entities. His vision is of probes with high definition video cameras that would beam images back to Earth. With no human lives at stake, issues like life support equipment and safety can be avoided, saving time and money.
From PRLOG @ http://www.prlog.org/12052006-findings-of-nasas-harold-sonny-white-begin-to-echo-marshall-barnes-stdtstm-research.html
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