Sunday, April 05, 2009


Is this warp drive?

I just had a funny idea hit me when reading some things about FTL travel. I'm still only a layman, but what few things I could put together seem like they'd make some kind of sense.

First is that E=mc^2 equation. You know, the formula that says mass and energy can be considered to some degree to be one and the same. Then you take into account that mass has inertia to it. That is you move a chunk of mass, and it provides an equal and opposite amount of resistance. But is this the case with moving a chunk of energy? Say a photon? (Photons are supposedly massless, right?) You turn on a light or a laser beam, and neither imparts a recoil.

We should know by now that it is possible to convert mass into energy. That's what nuclear science is about, right? So part of this warp propulsion involves converting mass to energy. A particle accelerator should be up to the job.

Now the tricky part is, how do you convert energy back into mass? I'm not sure of the correctness of this, but I recently read somewhere on the internet that a singularity can do this. Supposedly when a photon hits a singularity, it creates a matter and antimatter pairing that re-annihilates back into energy. But what if you had some kind of magnetic separator at the boundary layer that could skim off the animatter half? Then you should be able to re-condense the energy into equivalent mass of matter and antimatter.

Here's how I'd say a warp drive would work, in the very basic explanation. Amazingly enough, it doesn't seem all that far off from the Star Trek version of the thing. (At least in regards to having a lot of high energy plasma around and antimatter.) First you run a plasma stream through a particle accelerator. At the beginning of the accelerator, the plasma is still more mass than energy relavistic to the drive device. So it will impart an inertia impulse upon the device upon acceleration. But at the other end, it's converted to pure energy. Then you redirect the beam back around. Since it's pure energy, it imparts no inertial impulse (it may cause heating, but that's random and doesn't fully oppose the impulse from the acceleration.) Then you circle the energy beam all the way back to the matter condenser. The matter condenser consists of some apparatus that contains a micro-singularity and a magnetic skimmer. So now you should convert the energy into collections of both matter and anti-matter. Then you feed back the matter and anti-matter into the plasma circut, and repeat. (Racetrack style. For all intents and purposes, it should be a closed loop system.)

The way I see it, this looping particle accelerator with a mass-energy-mass conversion is creating a differential. And the differential is with the inertial impulse that ties into the gravitic effects of mass. Energy doesn't have this gravitic effect from what I understand. So in effect, the device is like the gravity equivalent of a heat pump. You're moving gravity to one side of the matter in the device, and imparting an impulse upon mass while expanding it into energy, and taking the energy back in with minimized losses with a mass condenser. The cleverness is that the energy doesn't cause an opposing kick of impulse on the return leg. Instead of heat being pumped around, it's space. Or at least the gravitational effect thereof.

Either what I said doesn't make much sense at all, or it's absolutely brilliant. Still even if it's plausible, it would take some crazy energy and engineering input to make work. Would the resources that could make that happen actually be available?

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