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Old 6th March 2012, 05:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Killer Warp Drive

Physicists with nothing better to do speculate on the devastating effects of a fictional star-drive:

Warp Drives May Come With a Killer Downside

Repeat after me: "Computer models are not data."

At our current level of understanding, star-drives are likely to be the most powerful weapons ever. I think it was one of Niven's Man-Kzin stories where a "primitive" starship from Earth is approached by more technically advanced aliens out in deep space. The Earth captain, commanding an "unarmed" ship, uses his star-drive to blast the aliens to atoms.

The first season Space: 1999 episode "Voyager's Return" (one of my favorites) tells how Earth's first interstellar probe accidentally destroys all life on several alien worlds.

One day Mankind may travel to the stars, and I don't doubt that the technique will command impressive energies and technologies. However, current speculative designs are probably further from the final result than the writers who imagined flying to the Moon on morning dew lifted by the rays of the sun.

But a scientist proclaimed this, so it must be true!

Quote:
Irish scientist, Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793 – 1859) didn’t believe that trains could contribute much in speedy transport. He wrote: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers ‘ would die of asphyxia’ [suffocation].” Today, trains reach speeds of 500 km/h.
Yeah, that worked out well.
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Old 6th March 2012, 06:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

I think the high-speed quote is based on the assumption of open carriages. No, I don't have a source/reference. 500km/h in an open carriage would be very interesting...
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Old 6th March 2012, 08:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

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Originally Posted by PTeppic View Post
I think the high-speed quote is based on the assumption of open carriages.
Lardner also made some pronouncement about the Box Tunnel and passengers asphyxiating if a train's brakes failed and it accelerated to 120 mph (193 kph). Anyone with a good motorcycle can exceed that speed today with only a tiny windscreen or faceplate to keep the wind off his face. Speed skiers also hit about that speed, as do skydivers spread-eagled flat. (Oriented vertically, a skydiver can go even faster.) A World War II, prop-driven fighter plane with a sliding canopy can easily hit that 500 kph (310 mph) mark without asphyxiating the pilot.
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Old 27th March 2012, 06:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

Ohhh, I don't know, I think this Irish lad may have a point......

We are better known for tall tales little white lies, I think Dr Lardner may have had a beer or two when making these predictions.

I liked the warp drive theory of the ships wake dragging along all the particles with it. But the sound barrier/fast train travel/flight even - were all considered impossible at some point by some very clever people (well cleverish!). Sharper tools in the tool box have saved the day and may well do so in the future.
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Old 27th March 2012, 06:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

In fairness to the (Irish) scientific thought of the day, no one had actually done any experimental work on relativity at the time and high-speed travel was utterly unexplored territory. The fastest land animal was, then as now, the cheetah, at something around 50 mph. Sky-diving was undreamt of in his philosophy, much less the headgear of a motor-cyclist.

Goning on available contemporary scientific data, he had a point. It was the laws of physics that had to change in order to accommodate the needs of the people.

Mind over matter in action, see
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Old 27th March 2012, 09:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

Mind over matter - usually every Saturday night in Dublin!

Yes I agree, faith in the human spirit to overcome.
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Old 31st March 2012, 06:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

Perhaps they could use a double-bubble, a limaçon ??

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima%C3%A7on
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Old 31st March 2012, 09:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Killer Warp Drive

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Originally Posted by Nik View Post
Perhaps they could use a double-bubble, a limaçon ??
Topology is where physics leaves reality behind and plunges into complete fantasy—Einsteinian warped space-time, Tippler diagrams, Klein bottles, Membranes and so on. At least Edwin Abbott's FLATLAND was intended as fiction.

The Alcubierre drive is a perpetual motion machine that bootstraps itself through space. Let's establish it as a real phenomenon first before we start panicking about how many alien civilizations it will destroy and how to fix it.
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