MadandGloating

"Warp Speed"

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One of the more interesting proposals to supply it is the Bussard Ramjet.

In both cases the wikipedia articles themselves provide convincing arguments against the possibility of these technologies. Given our current knowledge of physics and the limitations of human physiology, I think the inevitable conclusion is that it is simply impossible for human beings in their current form to travel to other stars - or even the outer reaches of our solar system.

Also, what they are talking about in that article is hocus-pocus Physics, not real what's possible Physics. I remember reading about that idea for a warp-drive ship probably many years ago in a Discover magazine (they are REALLY bad about publishing articles on hocus-pocus physics).

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Also, what they are talking about in that article is hocus-pocus Physics, not real what's possible Physics. I remember reading about that idea for a warp-drive ship probably many years ago in a Discover magazine (they are REALLY bad about publishing articles on hocus-pocus physics).

If you or others are interested in speculative ideas that are nonetheless founded in real physics, I suggest older back issues of JBIS (the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.) As I recall there were serious discussions of various fusion engine possible designs, as well as the Bussard Ramjet, which would hypothetically ionize and then sweep up diffuse interstellar hydrogen gas as fusion engine fuel. As you know, if you run through the equations, a huge problem with spaceships generally, and starships in particular, is the energy you need just to accelerate your fuel. It's an exponential problem, and for any fuel with a specific impulse (Isp) short of antimatter (which may be possible one day but certainly not today), you just can't have enough fuel onboard to get to the stars in any reasonable relativistic time. That even includes fusion energy, hence the ramjet idea, which would gather fuel on-the-go.

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Also, I don't understand what is meant by "hocus-pocus physics". Either a proposed mechanism follows known physical laws or it doesn't. There is virtually no question that relativistic starships are possible with well known and tested laws of physics. It's an enormous *engineering* and *financial* problem - neither the technology nor the funding currently exist, by orders of magnitude. On the other hand, as cool as it sounds, warp drive (U.S.S. Enterprise) and Stargate SG-1 (wormholes) are both almost certainly fantasies. (Though I don't think physics is yet at the point where humans can claim some kind of omniscience about the possible ways the universe works.)

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Also, I don't understand what is meant by "hocus-pocus physics". Either a proposed mechanism follows known physical laws or it doesn't. There is virtually no question that relativistic starships are possible with well known and tested laws of physics. It's an enormous *engineering* and *financial* problem - neither the technology nor the funding currently exist, by orders of magnitude. On the other hand, as cool as it sounds, warp drive (U.S.S. Enterprise) and Stargate SG-1 (wormholes) are both almost certainly fantasies. (Though I don't think physics is yet at the point where humans can claim some kind of omniscience about the possible ways the universe works.)

By hocus-pocus physics, I meant bad, detached from reality theoretical physics, which is incredibly popular in most of today's magazines: "New theory says there are 27 dimensions", "Physicist discovers new way to travel through time".

What I mean specifically is bunk theoretical physics that is bunk because it is metaphysically impossible to begin with. Hence I called that space-time bending starship "hocus-pocus physics", because I think from a metaphysical standpoint it is pure garbage.

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By hocus-pocus physics, I meant bad, detached from reality theoretical physics, which is incredibly popular in most of today's magazines: "New theory says there are 27 dimensions", "Physicist discovers new way to travel through time".

On that I totally agree.

What I mean specifically is bunk theoretical physics that is bunk because it is metaphysically impossible to begin with. Hence I called that space-time bending starship "hocus-pocus physics", because I think from a metaphysical standpoint it is pure garbage.

Just to be clear, do you mean the 27-dimensional kind of wackiness, or special relativity? The latter certainly has solid empirical evidence.

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What I mean specifically is bunk theoretical physics that is bunk because it is metaphysically impossible to begin with. Hence I called that space-time bending starship "hocus-pocus physics", because I think from a metaphysical standpoint it is pure garbage.

What, other than outright logical contradiction constitutes metaphysical impossibility?

Bob Kolker

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Just to be clear, do you mean the 27-dimensional kind of wackiness, or special relativity? The latter certainly has solid empirical evidence.

Oh believe me, I'm not against Special or General Relativity--I love studying and thinking about those two theories! The only thing I'm against is the literal view of space-time being some kind of fabric or entity that can bend or warp. In the context of the space-time warping starship, I said that was complete bunk because it was ridiculous: a ship that will compress space in front of it while expanding space behind it while traveling in some kind of spatial bubble, so that it can traverse the universe at faster than light travel speeds while actually remaining motionless within it's "warp bubble"...give me a break! This might work in some other reality or universe, but not in the one that actually exists.

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What I mean specifically is bunk theoretical physics that is bunk because it is metaphysically impossible to begin with. Hence I called that space-time bending starship "hocus-pocus physics", because I think from a metaphysical standpoint it is pure garbage.

What, other than outright logical contradiction constitutes metaphysical impossibility?

Bob Kolker

How about something that flies in the face of the very nature of existence?

I'll give an example: One reason that I think String Theory (or M-Theory or any of the different versions of string theories available) is bunk is because it requires extra spatial and time dimensions, and I think this is metaphysically impossible.

Time is not a physically real dimension, it is an abstract concept based on observing the rates at which things change or move. So any notion of multiple time dimensions through which we move is just silly.

Also, some String Theories will claim that there are more than 20 spatial dimensions, but we can't interact with them because they are curled up into tiny, bizarre, hyper-dimensional geometrical shapes. This is completely contradictory to what the nature of space is.

I'll put it this way: let's say I'm developing my own theory, the Jordanian Law of Gravitation, and my theory is that the gravitational field of a point source falls off at the rate of 1/d^3

A philosopher would not be able to say this is metaphysically impossible. He would only be able to say that it is metaphysically possible, but outside of his realm of knowledge.

A physicist would tell me my theory is blatantly wrong, because both experiments and theoretical predictions from Gauss' Law point with great certainty towards gravity falling at the rate of 1/d^2

If I were developing a theory about why the Moon hasn't fallen to the Earth, and I postulate that Angels keep the Moon afloat by carrying it as they fly around the Earth, a philosopher could say straight from the start that my theory is wrong, because it is a metaphysical impossibility---the Supernatural doesn't exist.

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