July 29, 2008

Warp Drive Engine Would Travel Faster Than Light. "It is possible to travel faster than light. You just wouldn't travel faster than light."
  • Have they tried reversing the polarities?
  • Unfortunately, string theory is currently completely unprovable. Give it a couple thousand years.
  • HA! The silhouette in the diagram is the Negh'var from DS9. What a bunch of geeks.
  • While loto is correct, in that String Theory has almost no testable hypotheses and thus is unprovable/unfalsifiable in its current form, it has a great advantage over standard model and quantum physics in that it is mathematically internally consistent. The coherence of the theory, and the fact that it is 'backwards compatible' with all older theories of physics, have led many physicists to support it. String theory is our first real stab at a 'theory of everything', a way to unify all the known natural forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak and strong) and matter (quarks and leptons) in a mathematically complete system. Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, for example, cannot be segued together into a large whole, even though specific predictions made by both fields can and have been proven. The parts work but the whole does not. String theory is criticised because it has not yet provided experimentally testable predictions, as I said. This is a valid criticism, but it doesn't dismantle string theory. I would not be so ready to say that we are 'thousands of years' away from a breakthru, however, given the rapid acceleration of human knowledge and discovery in just the last 100 years, I would suggest that maybe a couple of generations is more on the money. If we can put together a quantum computer or an accelerated artificial intelligence, both of which are certainly possible within our lifetimes, then making the leaps forward to exotic propulsion systems and complete mastery of currently hidden properties of physics could well be within reach in a short order of time, due to the massive advance in computational ability this will give us. In any case, this warp theory isn't new, it's been doing the rounds for a few years now. IMHO, Heim-Droscher theory is more likely to produce a workable (but sub-light) propulsion system within our or our children's lifetimes. Not that I am any kind of expert, but I do write sci-fi and own a magical pony.
  • The trouble though Hank is that _bits_ of it are backwards compatible. There's just so much to choose from, and any predictions are at (currently) inaccessible energies to be able to tell who's right or not. And sure, postulate a strong AI (that might or might not make a good scientist!) or a quantum intelligence and the breakthroughs might come. Or not. Computation without _data_ makes it darned hard to engineer anything.
  • A quantum computer is different from an AI. The former is a computer capable of millions, or billions more calculations in a given period of time than the current binary processing we use. This just speeds up computation by a massive degree, so yeah, you actually have to have numbers to feed into the thing. The AI is (presumed) to become or to be able to create an intelligence that is far more powerful than ours, thus being able to devise theories and technologies that are currently beyond us. In both cases, yes, you have to have something for the things to work on, because otherwise they are just gonna sit there ticking over. But I don't see the problem, since we have the data. What are we trying to work out? How to generate the power make this work. What technology could generate fields of this magnitude, and the engineering necessary to construct that. How to design alloys that will conduct current in a manner suitable for huge coils or whatnot.. each technological advance needed is simply a problem to be solved incrementally to reach the goal, and we as a species are problem solvers. Given efficient enough tools, we can speed up that process.
  • Oh, I think it is a wonderful mathematical theory, and I really look forward to the day when we have the computational power to make and prove predictions with it, but that day is far, far away. At this point, calling it physics is a little much for me. But, I think our focus should be on other theories such as Loop Quantum Gravity. I may be biased, though. I came from an institution that was heavily against the dogmatic attitude of string theorist.
  • Great post, by the way. People should talk about physics more often.
  • If they get their warp drive before I get my flying car, there's going to be trouble.
  • I actually understood all that. :) What colour is your pony Hank? I ponder frequently on the colour of Schroedinger's cat.
  • I can't tell, because I'll have to look at it, and then, *poof*
  • First there is a mountain then there is no mountain then there is.
  • Oh Wanita.