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  • Interstellar Drive?

    http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=16902006

    Bullshit...Or Not?

    Al
    "Are my pants...threatening you?"

  • #2
    Originally posted by alklloyd
    Based on what we think we know about physics, it sounds more like BS than real, but evidence is the real indicator-- all I have is a marginally functional crystal ball.

    Example issues:
    We have trouble building piloted vehicles that can handle the friction, resistance and heat generated by the air of our atmosphere when traveling at speeds over Mach 6.
    At speeds close to light, even the small numbers of atoms in space can add friction.

    "Inertial Dampeners" .. heh. In SciFi, this is something that is suggested (in some form) as the reason for objects inside ships not being flattened to the walls of ships when they accellerate.

    Detection of debris, and flight-plans .. when traveling at close to the speed of light, even if we assume the rate of local time passing for the pilot does not get altered, making quick decisions for when to alter path, or speed-up/slow-down would be tough.

    Speaking of changes in direction .. going back to inertia, even small changes in direction when travling close to the speed of light could have significant effects when done quickly enough to avoid collisions.
    Last edited by TheCotMan; January 8, 2006, 22:49. Reason: fix spelling

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    • #3
      Hmm, New Scientist made this their January cover story:

      http://www.newscientist.com/channel/...mg18925331.200

      EVERY year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awards prizes for the best papers presented at its annual conference. Last year's winner in the nuclear and future flight category went to a paper calling for experimental tests of an astonishing new type of engine. According to the paper, this hyperdrive motor would propel a craft through another dimension at enormous speeds. It could leave Earth at lunchtime and get to the moon in time for dinner. There's just one catch: the idea relies on an obscure and largely unrecognised kind of physics. Can they possibly be serious?

      The AIAA is certainly not embarrassed. What's more, the US military has begun to cast its eyes over the hyperdrive concept, and a space propulsion researcher at the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories has said he would be interested in putting the idea to the test. And despite the bafflement of most physicists at the theory that supposedly underpins it, Pavlos Mikellides, an aerospace engineer at the Arizona State University in Tempe who reviewed the winning paper, stands by the committee's choice. "Even though such features have been explored before, this particular approach is quite unique," he says.

      Unique it certainly is. If the experiment gets the go-ahead and works, it could reveal new interactions between the fundamental forces of nature that would change the future of space travel. Forget spending six months or more holed up in a rocket on the way to Mars, a round trip on the hyperdrive could take as little as 5 hours. All our worries about astronauts' muscles wasting away or their DNA being irreparably damaged by cosmic radiation would disappear overnight. What's more the device would put travel to the stars within reach for the first time. But can the hyperdrive really get off the ground?

      The answer to that question hinges on the work of a little-known German physicist. Burkhard Heim began to explore the hyperdrive propulsion concept in the 1950s as a spin-off from his attempts to heal the biggest divide in physics: the rift between quantum mechanics and Einstein's general theory of relativity.

      Quantum theory describes the realm of the very small - atoms, electrons and elementary particles - while general relativity deals with gravity. The two theories are immensely successful in their separate spheres. The clash arises when it comes to describing the basic structure of space. In general relativity, space-time is an active, malleable fabric. It has four dimensions - three of space and one of time - that deform when masses are placed in them. In Einstein's formulation, the force of gravity is a result of the deformation of these dimensions. Quantum theory, on the other hand, demands that space is a fixed and passive stage, something simply there for particles to exist on. It also suggests that space itself must somehow be made up of discrete, quantum elements.

      In the early 1950s, Heim began to rewrite the equations of general relativity in a quantum framework. He drew on Einstein's idea that the gravitational force emerges from the dimensions of space and time, but suggested that all fundamental forces, including electromagnetism, might emerge from a new, different set of dimensions. Originally he had four extra dimensions, but he discarded two of them believing that they did not produce any forces, and settled for adding a new two-dimensional "sub-space" onto Einstein's four-dimensional space-time.

      In Heim's six-dimensional world, the forces of gravity and electromagnetism are coupled together. Even in our familiar four-dimensional world, we can see a link between the two forces through the behaviour of fundamental particles such as the electron. An electron has both mass and charge. When an electron falls under the pull of gravity its moving electric charge creates a magnetic field. And if you use an electromagnetic field to accelerate an electron you move the gravitational field associated with its mass. But in the four dimensions we know, you cannot change the strength of gravity simply by cranking up the electromagnetic field.

      In Heim's view of space and time, this limitation disappears. He claimed it is possible to convert electromagnetic energy into gravitational and back again, and speculated that a rotating magnetic field could reduce the influence of gravity on a spacecraft enough for it to take off.

      When he presented his idea in public in 1957, he became an instant celebrity. Wernher von Braun, the German engineer who at the time was leading the Saturn rocket programme that later launched astronauts to the moon, approached Heim about his work and asked whether the expensive Saturn rockets were worthwhile. And in a letter in 1964, the German relativity theorist Pascual Jordan, who had worked with the distinguished physicists Max Born and Werner Heisenberg and was a member of the Nobel committee, told Heim that his plan was so important "that its successful experimental treatment would without doubt make the researcher a candidate for the Nobel prize".

      But all this attention only led Heim to retreat from the public eye. This was partly because of his severe multiple disabilities, caused by a lab accident when he was still in his teens. But Heim was also reluctant to disclose his theory without an experiment to prove it. He never learned English because he did not want his work to leave the country. As a result, very few people knew about his work and no one came up with the necessary research funding. In 1958 the aerospace company Bölkow did offer some money, but not enough to do the proposed experiment.

      While Heim waited for more money to come in, the company's director, Ludwig Bölkow, encouraged him to develop his theory further. Heim took his advice, and one of the results was a theorem that led to a series of formulae for calculating the masses of the fundamental particles - something conventional theories have conspicuously failed to achieve. He outlined this work in 1977 in the Max Planck Institute's journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, his only peer-reviewed paper. In an abstruse way that few physicists even claim to understand, the formulae work out a particle's mass starting from physical characteristics, such as its charge and angular momentum.

      Yet the theorem has proved surprisingly powerful. The standard model of physics, which is generally accepted as the best available theory of elementary particles, is incapable of predicting a particle's mass. Even the accepted means of estimating mass theoretically, known as lattice quantum chromodynamics, only gets to between 1 and 10 per cent of the experimental values.

      Gravity reduction

      But in 1982, when researchers at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg implemented Heim's mass theorem in a computer program, it predicted masses of fundamental particles that matched the measured values to within the accuracy of experimental error. If they are let down by anything, it is the precision to which we know the values of the fundamental constants. Two years after Heim's death in 2001, his long-term collaborator Illobrand von Ludwiger calculated the mass formula using a more accurate gravitational constant. "The masses came out even more precise," he says.

      After publishing the mass formulae, Heim never really looked at hyperspace propulsion again. Instead, in response to requests for more information about the theory behind the mass predictions, he spent all his time detailing his ideas in three books published in German. It was only in 1980, when the first of his books came to the attention of a retired Austrian patent officer called Walter Dröscher, that the hyperspace propulsion idea came back to life. Dröscher looked again at Heim's ideas and produced an "extended" version, resurrecting the dimensions that Heim originally discarded. The result is "Heim-Dröscher space", a mathematical description of an eight-dimensional universe.

      From this, Dröscher claims, you can derive the four forces known in physics: the gravitational and electromagnetic forces, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But there's more to it than that. "If Heim's picture is to make sense," Dröscher says, "we are forced to postulate two more fundamental forces." These are, Dröscher claims, related to the familiar gravitational force: one is a repulsive anti-gravity similar to the dark energy that appears to be causing the universe's expansion to accelerate. And the other might be used to accelerate a spacecraft without any rocket fuel.

      This force is a result of the interaction of Heim's fifth and sixth dimensions and the extra dimensions that Dröscher introduced. It produces pairs of "gravitophotons", particles that mediate the interconversion of electromagnetic and gravitational energy. Dröscher teamed up with Jochem Häuser, a physicist and professor of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzgitter, Germany, to turn the theoretical framework into a proposal for an experimental test. The paper they produced, "Guidelines for a space propulsion device based on Heim's quantum theory", is what won the AIAA's award last year.

      Claims of the possibility of "gravity reduction" or "anti-gravity" induced by magnetic fields have been investigated by NASA before (New Scientist, 12 January 2002, p 24). But this one, Dröscher insists, is different. "Our theory is not about anti-gravity. It's about completely new fields with new properties," he says. And he and Häuser have suggested an experiment to prove it.

      This will require a huge rotating ring placed above a superconducting coil to create an intense magnetic field. With a large enough current in the coil, and a large enough magnetic field, Dröscher claims the electromagnetic force can reduce the gravitational pull on the ring to the point where it floats free. Dröscher and Häuser say that to completely counter Earth's pull on a 150-tonne spacecraft a magnetic field of around 25 tesla would be needed. While that's 500,000 times the strength of Earth's magnetic field, pulsed magnets briefly reach field strengths up to 80 tesla. And Dröscher and Häuser go further. With a faster-spinning ring and an even stronger magnetic field, gravitophotons would interact with conventional gravity to produce a repulsive anti-gravity force, they suggest.

      Dröscher is hazy about the details, but he suggests that a spacecraft fitted with a coil and ring could be propelled into a multidimensional hyperspace. Here the constants of nature could be different, and even the speed of light could be several times faster than we experience. If this happens, it would be possible to reach Mars in less than 3 hours and a star 11 light years away in only 80 days, Dröscher and Häuser say.

      So is this all fanciful nonsense, or a revolution in the making? The majority of physicists have never heard of Heim theory, and most of those contacted by New Scientist said they couldn't make sense of Dröscher and Häuser's description of the theory behind their proposed experiment. Following Heim theory is hard work even without Dröscher's extension, says Markus Pössel, a theoretical physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany. Several years ago, while an undergraduate at the University of Hamburg, he took a careful look at Heim theory. He says he finds it "largely incomprehensible", and difficult to tie in with today's physics. "What is needed is a step-by-step introduction, beginning at modern physical concepts," he says.

      The general consensus seems to be that Dröscher and Häuser's theory is incomplete at best, and certainly extremely difficult to follow. And it has not passed any normal form of peer review, a fact that surprised the AIAA prize reviewers when they made their decision. "It seemed to be quite developed and ready for such publication," Mikellides told New Scientist.

      At the moment, the main reason for taking the proposal seriously must be Heim theory's uncannily successful prediction of particle masses. Maybe, just maybe, Heim theory really does have something to contribute to modern physics. "As far as I understand it, Heim theory is ingenious," says Hans Theodor Auerbach, a theoretical physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who worked with Heim. "I think that physics will take this direction in the future."

      It may be a long while before we find out if he's right. In its present design, Dröscher and Häuser's experiment requires a magnetic coil several metres in diameter capable of sustaining an enormous current density. Most engineers say that this is not feasible with existing materials and technology, but Roger Lenard, a space propulsion researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico thinks it might just be possible. Sandia runs an X-ray generator known as the Z machine which "could probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients".

      For now, though, Lenard considers the theory too shaky to justify the use of the Z machine. "I would be very interested in getting Sandia interested if we could get a more perspicacious introduction to the mathematics behind the proposed experiment," he says. "Even if the results are negative, that, in my mind, is a successful experiment."
      Last edited by bascule; January 9, 2006, 14:55.
      45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B0
      45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B1
      [ redacted ]

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      • #4
        A link I found on digg:
        http://www.hpcc-space.com/publicatio...04-3700-a4.pdf
        Gets under the hood with the physics.

        Al
        "Are my pants...threatening you?"

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, I thought the part of travelling from one dimension to another as alot of crap but the part whereby the space craft could be propelled at an amazing speed by generating a powerful magnetic field is rather a very interesting idea. If it works out well, that could shape the future incredibly, think about going to planets far away to mine minerals and returning them here. That will put a real stretch between the economies of developed nations and those of developing nations. There might be war in space over which planetary body belongs to who and stuff like that. Every invention seems to have its own consequences. This invention which I think still won't work at least not for a few decades now since some pieces of the puzzle are missing, will change the world positively at first and then you will see what happens when the military takes over.

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          • #6
            Well if they get it working I hope it's more reliable then the millenium falcon, that hyperdrive seems to fail at the worse times. :D
            Red Squirrel

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            • #7
              The Monday morning commute to work would be less tedious.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hell of a movie.

                Now im waiting for a movie set, not that far in the future,in a galaxy pretty close to earth where human kind is waring over resources (like usual, cough *Bush*cough) and would end in the CANADIAN space arm throwing ships around to win the day. If only that were true.....
                A Signature

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                • #9
                  This is the Second Time you are being notified about this.
                  Combined with your /dev/null this is a warning.

                  You were notified, and you said you understood. This is your second offense on the same issue. You are at risk for being banned.

                  Originally posted by grimnocturnal
                  Now im waiting for a movie set, not that far in the future,in a galaxy pretty close to earth where human kind is waring over resources (like usual, cough *Bush*cough) and would end in the CANADIAN space arm throwing ships around to win the day. If only that were true.....
                  Comments about specific political figures. like your "Bush" comment, can easily lead to other sorts of name caling and maligning of other politcial figures. Please avoid these kinds of political topics.

                  Quoted Below
                  Originally posted by rules
                  ...Religion is off-topic. Political topics are mostly off-topic.
                  Be safe, and avoid topics of Politics and/or Religion.
                  Discussing implications of Laws on technology, or hacking in threads can sometimes be acceptable, but are still at risk for /dev/null or closure if people start flaming each other, specific candidates, parties, or push partisan/political views.

                  It is safest to avoid topics of politics.

                  Thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheCotMan
                    Comments about specific political figures. like your "Bush" comment, can easily lead to other sorts of name caling and maligning of other politcial figures. Please avoid these kinds of political topics.
                    crap... does this mean no more jokes about The Panzer Pope or Jock Sherock??
                    If I had a nickle for every time someone offered me ten cents to keep my two cents to myself... I would be a rich man.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Siviak
                      crap... does this mean no more jokes about The Panzer Pope or Jock Sherock??
                      It is hard to say for sure, but I would guess that this would be true only on days of the week that end with "y"
                      Heh-heh.

                      The issue with P&R is a tricky one:
                      There are almost no barriers for entry into a conversation on P&R, so people from all levels of sophisticaltion, knowledge, and experience can play. This makes it easier for asshats to vomit poop and fling it around the forums without violating rules that might allow P&R. Then it can lead to banning people, and accusations of unfair bans because, "they just [did not agree with me|wanted to shut me up|take away my freedom to speak|.*]."

                      Asshats eventually push away skilled people, so it is a good idea to avoid discussions that make it easy for asshats to stick around:
                      P&R is like a laxitive to asshats.

                      At least with technical discussions, there is a better chance for an ultimately correct answer, given sufficient collection specific "givens" for a stated problem.

                      Back to Interstellar drives...
                      Even if they were possible, consider the energy costs to use them, and how much the price for energy has been increasing over the years.

                      Consider that articles mentioned above, and other web pages cite a maximum of 15 to 20 Tesla is possible in a handful of labs. This should give some indication of the power required to generate such a field, and limits in the materials we have been using. Also consider that as we increase current to materials (ignoring superconductivity) those material provide resistance to the current, and heat up. With (all?) metal conductors used to generate EM Fields, higher temperatures tend to harm efficiency (conversion of power to stronger fields) and at high enough power/field strength, materials can begin to fail. This inefficiency means diminishing return on investments of power.

                      Ok. Let's say we can do it, the experiment is a success, and this opens whole new forces in Physics. How far away from the "engine" will computers need to be placed to ensure the EM fields do not distort their function? Will such a drive require an optical computer? Without knowing special cases/rules of physics to any passengers/vehicles in the proposed, "dimentional travel," what about inertia? What about centrifugal force "created" as a result of changing directions, at high speeds? Do we even have models to predict how conventional newtonian physics might apply in such a case?

                      I am doubtful that this will open up 2 new forces in Physics, but I am open to review experimental results to change my mind.

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                      • #12
                        I took quantum physics in highschool...and the main problem I see is this: How do they turn from light back into solid? I mean, the fucker's got to have brakes right?
                        -Ridirich

                        "When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed."

                        Commander W.H. Hamilton

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheCotMan
                          Asshats eventually push away skilled people, so it is a good idea to avoid discussions that make it easy for asshats to stick around:
                          P&R is like a laxitive to asshats.
                          i don't know if i'll totally grant your first premise, that asshats push away skilled people... i think the people who get "pushed away" or get fed up and choose to leave are sometimes asshats in skilled clothing (to use the fabled wolf and sheep analogy)

                          i don't know, maybe i just have thicker skin than most. in any case, i think that the conversation prez, myself, and others had in the middle of this thread was very helpful in defining and marking the lines of what can constitute safe political discussion and what can't. (i'd encourage newbies on the forum to give it a glance. scroll down... the good/bad politics discourse starts around post #31, i think)
                          "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                          - Trent Reznor

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ridirich
                            I took quantum physics in highschool...and the main problem I see is this: How do they turn from light back into solid? I mean, the fucker's got to have brakes right?
                            From what I've read, you turn off the Heim drive and you pop back into normal space. I didn't get what speed you would be going, if any.

                            Al
                            "Are my pants...threatening you?"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yes, but if you exist as light, how do you flip off a mechanical switch that now exists as light as well?
                              -Ridirich

                              "When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed."

                              Commander W.H. Hamilton

                              Comment

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