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Warp Drive Propulsion Theory John L. Carrasco Astronomy 308 07 August 2006
Space: The Final Frontier… • Man has always dreamed of exploring space. • The Mercury and Apollo missions took us farther than ever dreamed possible. • But what of our space accomplishments lately…. • The Space Shuttle, deep space probes, but little else.
What is limiting our exploration? • Certainly not imagination. • Probes and satellite imagery continue to explore far beyond our Solar System. • What is limiting us? • Our present technology… • Time Constraints… • Finances…
The reality of space travel (In today’s terms) • Expensive • Fuel and training do not come cheap • Technology and Time • Closest star: Proxima Centauri (at 4.2 Light Years distance). • At a speed of 150,000 MPH, it would still take almost 18,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri. • The space shuttle maxes out at a “robust” 25,404 feet/second. Still too slow…
What is there to be done?... • “Mr. Scott, warp speed…” • But what is warp speed? • Who created the idea? • Is it even possible?
The Problem with Faster than Light Travel • Einstein and the Theory of General Relativity. • E=Mc^2 • Why faster than light travel is impossible with our current means of propulsion (minus wormholes). • As speed increases, energy demands increase. Mass (of the vehicle) also increases. • Both mass and fuel demand will eventually increase to infinity, making propelling a vehicle faster than light impossible.
The Alcubierre Drive • Miguel Alcubierre • Mexican physicist • Proposed a method of faster than light travel that could be a “solution” for Einstein’s General Relativity. • Commonly referred to as the “Alcubierre Drive” or “warp drive.”
The basics of the Alcubierre “Warp Drive” • 1994 Journal of Classical and Quantum Gravity • The ship would ride along space inside a warp bubble. • Since the ship itself is not moving, it is not subject to the rules of general relativity.
The Alcubierre Drive, continued • 1994 Journal of Classical and Quantum Gravity (continued). • A method of stretching space in a wave, causing the space “ahead” of a spacecraft to contract. • It would also cause the space “behind” the spacecraft to expand.
Science Fiction meets Science Fact (sort of…) • The Star Trek Franchise. • The Contemporary Warp Scale (according to Star Trek). • The speeds achieved by the vehicles (“starships”) are faster than anything today… • But still slow enough to allow space to remain large and mysterious. • “…to boldly go where no one has gone before…”
The Contemporary Warp Scale (continued) Warp Factor x c Velocity Warp 1 1 c 3.0x10^5 km/s Warp 2 10.079 c 3.0x10^6 km/s Warp 3 38.941 c 1.2x10^7 km/s Warp 4 101.59 c 3.0x10^7 km/s Warp 5 213.75 c 6.4x10^7 km/s Warp 6 392.50 c 1.2x10^8 km/s Warp 7 656.13 c 2.0x10^8 km/s Warp 8 1,024 c 3.1x10^8 km/s Warp 9 1,516.4 c 4.5x10^8 km/s Warp 9.2 1,649 c 4.9x10^8 km/s Warp 9.6 1,909 c 5.7x10^8 km/s Warp 9.9 3,053 c 9.2x10^8 km/s Warp 9.9753 6,000 c 1.8x10^9 km/s Warp 9.99 7,912 c 2.3x10^9 km/s Let c = the speed of light
How fast are these speeds? • At Warp 1, you could reach the Moon (from the Earth) in 1.34 seconds! • At Warp 2, you could travel across the Solar System in 1 hour!! • At Warp 5, you could reach Proxima Centauri (nearest star) in 9 days!!! • At Warp 9, Proxima Centauri is only 1 day away!!!!
Works Cited • Alcubierre Drive • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive • The Warp Drive: hyper-fast travel within general relativity • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/364496.stm • The Contemporary Warp Scale • http://trekmania.net/the_fleet/utopia/fleet/neworleans.htm • Sci/Tech Warp Drive Possible • http://members.tripod.com/da_theoretical1/wdtheory.html • Warp Drive (Star Trek) • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warp_drive