Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Hyperdrive and Space Propulsion 301

Interested reader writes "MSNBC has an article covering the recent Space Technology and Applications Forum in New Mexico, which included a frontier physics session on hyperdrive, wormholes, and other blue sky ideas. The idea is a revival of NASA's long-dead (and heavily criticized) Advanced Propulsion Project."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hyperdrive and Space Propulsion

Comments Filter:
  • by NthDegree256 ( 219656 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:34AM (#14901271)
    Well, I don't know about the hyperdrive, but I clicked on the hyperlink in the article and I was immediately on page 2! Amazing!
  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:34AM (#14901274)
    a frontier physics session on hyperdrive, wormholes, and other blue sky ideas.

    I believe the proper technical term is: pie in the sky ideas.

    • Re:Wrong Terminology (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rimbo ( 139781 )
      Given that it was held in New Mexico, Blue Sky is appropriate.

      *(For those who don't know, the sky in Santa Fe & Los Alamos -- due to the extreme altitude -- is a very deep shade of blue, brighter and darker than the typical light-blue you see at normal altitudes.)
    • Blue Sky refers to any endeavor where the future gain is all based on hope. In my business, the car business, you often see used car lots that say "we finance". What they are doing in acutality is selling you a car for $3,995 or some similar number for which they paid $995. They then require a $995 down payment. So they are whole from day 1. Any payments that you make to the seller are profit on that car. The profit is all "Blue Sky". They hope that you will make perhaps half or slightly more of the paymen
      • What they are doing in acutality is selling you a car for $3,995 or some similar number for which they paid $995.

        I must insist that, in this case, the term used by such upstanding, trustworthy, honest an generous businessmen, such as used car salesmen, fails to describe properly the situation at hand. If the ideas discussed in that conference were to be applied to your situation, the "car" would cost $1.5 billion and all that would actually end up being delivered would be an "artist's rendering" in 3D and

    • That's Pi in the sky to you pilgrim...
  • by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:41AM (#14901290)
    Here's page 1: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11730484/ [msn.com]

  • Prior Art (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:43AM (#14901294)
    And in further news, Star Trek claims prior art and all intellectual property rights to any hyperdrive. A spokesman for Paramount says, "Even though we call it Warp Drive, its all the same thing. We had our spaceship launched back in 1967 and now want royalties on discovery. You saw it on TV, so you know it must be true."

    NASA has no comment, but are reportedly checking into the technology of Lost in Space to determine the validity of Star Trek's claims.

  • by LordZardoz ( 155141 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:01AM (#14901332)
    I would say that I would be very surprised if any propulsion of the sort noted here will be put into production in my life time. But I also have no doubt that we will at some point, discover a way to permit us to distant stars.

    We wont find this breakthrough if we dont look for it. As long as the false and impossible ideas are shot down, whats the harm in listening to these wild ideas?

    Afterall, some day, someone my actually be on to something. It would be a shame to disregard the idea just because it sounds impossible on the face of it.

    END COMMUNICATION
    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:43AM (#14901398) Journal
      As long as the false and impossible ideas are shot down, whats the harm in listening to these wild ideas?

      Careful with that. Sometimes even the false and impossible ideas are what work. Consider that nearly all of society at one time knew that the universe rotated around Earth. In fact, to preach otherwise was a death sentence.

      After that came mezmorize (hypnosis), which all solid psychologists said could not happen, but 100 years later accepted it as occuring.

      Now adays, we have cold Fusion. When Pons/Stanley? first announced it, Physicists stated that it could not happen (as well as unable to duplicate it). The 2 were basically ruined professionally. Now, a number of groups are doing it, including the navy, and it is being thought of as not being impossible.

      The point is, just because something is considered impossible, does not make it so.

      • >Sometimes even the false and impossible ideas are what work. Consider that >nearly all of society at one time knew that the universe rotated around Earth. In >fact, to preach otherwise was a death sentence.


        There is a big difference between condemning free thought through religious mania and debunking a hare-brained idea that a college freshman can easily prove to be false (the pursuit of which wastes tax dollars that can be used to feed hungry people).

        FTL is not bunk because gawd/allah/odin
        • by ardor ( 673957 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:57AM (#14901680)
          There is a big difference between condemning free thought through religious mania and debunking a hare-brained idea that a college freshman can easily prove to be false (the pursuit of which wastes tax dollars that can be used to feed hungry people).

          FTL is not bunk because gawd/allah/odin/yahweh/ram said so. FTL is bunk because it ameaningless state in a classical timelike metric. I won't burn you at the stake for trying to work on FTL. However, I will write a sternly worded letter to the NSF recommending that they don't give you any money for it.

          The problem is: with this thinking you kill off many breakthroughs.
          Remember that theories are just models. Now if by any chance one model is false, and a guy thinks he can prove it AND fix it, he won't get any support because the established model doesn't predict his claims. To prove his claims, he might need some pretty expensive equipment, with the NSF has, for example. But, if YOU prevent this from being tested, you may be killing off one breakthrough. You NEVER know if something works or not in advance for sure. Thats why scientists perform experiments. Of course there are many crackpots, but if science remains in its established, comfortable theories, then nothing will advance.
      • Sometimes even the false and impossible ideas are what work.

        Your post doesn't make sense. In fact, it's self-contradicting.

        Examples:

        ... nearly all of society at one time knew that the universe rotated around Earth.

        Last time I checked, the idea that the Earth rotated about the sun was a true idea that actually worked. Not the other way around. It was the false idea -- clung too inanely -- that failed.

        After that came mezmorize (hypnosis)...

        Repeat above process.

        Now adays, we have c
    • by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @01:55PM (#14902905) Homepage

      Its not FTL but baby will it get the ball rolling. I'll just run this by everyone here... With all the talk lately about a space elevator, I got to thinking after a sort of recent slashdot discussion [slashdot.org], just what advantages would a space elevator offer over a tower launch? I contacted the man responsible for a similar idea, the skyramp [skyramp.org] (warning: hideous javascript menu may break firefox), Carlton Meyer, and had a dialogue in which he pointed me to a tower launch archive [yarchive.net].

      The ideas I see bandied about there are similar to what I had in mind, which would be essentially an 11km tall tower (think pylons rather than skyscrapers, based at sea), with evacuated airless launch tubes, using nuclear reactors to power a maglev or pulley system to accelerate vessels to escape velocity. These would then emerge above the end of the troposphere [gatech.edu], with it's associated weather and air pressure, and have little to no fuel needed to escape the earth's gravity, meaning you could do a lot more while you were up there. At 1m/s acceleration, you would be at escape velocity when you exit the top of the tower.

      Not only would this enable multiple launches daily, it is, unlike the space elevator, readily achievable with today's technology, and financially viable as well. Given NASA had an annual budget of $16.2 billion for 2005 [space.com], and a nuclear power plant costs a cool billion to build, give or take, we could have this up and running in a few years. And once we are up there...

      Space has got vast, essentially unlimited resources. One recent story pointed out the trillion dollar iron asteroid up there. The thing has about 5 tons of steel for every man, woman and child on earth. And thats just one of god knows how many... billions more?

      Once we leap the cost to escape hurdle (as I think I have managed), we can proceed to use these resources. There are several obstacles in the way of this, first of which is zero gee mining, we have no idea how to do it. We can either mine the ore out there, or bring the asteroid back into orbit and slice it up there. Or slice it up and send it back to orbit. I would be opposed to moving it back into orbit for processing, purely for the debris issue. Perhaps a lunar base would have some merit there.

      So we set up a mining and processing operation either on the moon or in deep orbit, and start cutting and processing one of those bad boys. Whats the first thing we build? A bigger processing and mining operation. Space exploration, much like the internet, has to be a largely incestuous affair at first, existing solely for its own benefit.

      Once we have that mastered, we can move to algae pods in orbit for food production, oxygen refining, and fuel production (biodiesel or chemical engines), all of which can be powered by the immense energy of the sun, and use the raw materials abundantly available in space. Whether you ship that stuff back to earth or use it for further colonisation, its a vital step.

      The production of automated scouts is also a high priority; a vast amount of surveyor and prospector drones to sweep and map every square inch of every rock and gas in the system, out to the Oort cloud, and figure out what they are made of. I'd err on the side of quantity rather than quality, still no reason not to have either. This could be combined with deep space observatories that would make hubble look like the end of a coke bottle.

      So now we have a manufacturing bridgehead, a good idea of what's interesting out there, and a cheap means to launch to orbit. Actual manned system ships would come next, to either colonise or investigate the system. The rest, as they say, is (future) history.

      A lot of this would require automatio

      • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:07PM (#14903866)
        I haven't read your links yet, but I'm skeptical about this being "readily achievable with today's technology." To put an 11 km pylon in perspective, Tapei 101 is 508 meters (0.508 km, if you need the math done) tall. Burj Dubai will be 705 meters tall. The Mars oil platform is 990 meters tall, but 900 meters of that is underwater and mostly consists of cables running under tension to the sea floor, and it's definitely not evacuated. A similar design would have to be parked in the Marianas Trench (11 kilometers ~ 36000 feet) or have stick above the water a significant distance, and also have to maintain straightness in any currents or else deal with lateral accelerations on the launch vehicle due to curvature of the launch tube.

        Evacuation is also a challenge. If you want to park it in an ocean trench, you'll need to deal with the pressure at the bottom (approximately 15000 psi at the bottom...there's a reason Trieste is the only manned vessel ever to go there). Even if you find a way to build an 11 km tall tower standing above the water, you've got to pump air out faster than it flows in the open top, or add the mass of a cover to the top... which means stuff moving at the end of an 11 km long moment arm.

        I also went ahead and did some quick math. 1 m/s/s acceleration over 11 km is not enough:

        s = s(0) + v(0)*t + 0.5*a*t^2, where s(0)=0 and v(0) = 0 so:
        t = ((2*s)/a)^0.5 = 148 seconds to traverse the 11 km

        v = v(0) + a*t = 0 + 1 m/s/s * 148 s = 148 m/s = 331 mph
        Woefully short of escape velocity.

        So then I tried 1 G and got 1040 mph, which still doesn't cut it. Next I went for 5 G's, which is on the order of what astronauts experience during a launch, and that gave me 2,326 mph. It's still not escape velocity, but surprisingly enough, it is sufficient kinetic energy to loft an object to a height of 22,000 miles, or the altitude of a geosynchronous orbit. Unfortunately, when it gets there it doesn't have sufficient tangetial velocity to stay there, so it follows a funny elliptical path 22,000 miles to the hard ground. I ran out of scratch paper before I could quantify that, however. I did have one line left to note that a 1000 kg payload accellerating at 5 G's requires 2.4 MW of power, not accounting for losses, which is one capability we do easily have.

        It's a pity, because all of these ideas show some measure of original thought and are theoretically feasible in some fashion, but the technical challenges are rather mind-numbing. So far the only problems I see with the space elevator are a sufficiently strong ribbon, a reliable method for weaving the ribbon in place, absolute reliability of a car during the 22,000 mile trip, and power to the car. Naturally, none of these are very trivial.
  • by Mr. Bad Example ( 31092 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:22AM (#14901368) Homepage
    I keep getting an image in my head of Newton's Laws of Whittlin', and it won't go away.
  • Blue Sky ideas? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Israfels ( 730298 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @03:38AM (#14901385)
    Here's what people said about other blue sky ideas:
    You will fall off the edge of the world.
    Man cannot fly!

    I can go on, but I'll just leave this as a quote from someone else.

    The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. Arthur C. Clarke
    • Man cannot fly!


      To be fair, that was true at the time.

    • You will fall off the edge of the world.

      Jesus! It's been over 1900 years since any educated person actually believed any of that crap. Can we let it go? Please? We have many more beliefs to ridicule that people still believed, such as that some omnipotent being created all life on Earth and that man was created as we appear today, without any evolution.
    • Man cannot fly!

      I propose an experiment to verify your claim.

      Step 1: use an elevator in a tall building and travel to the top floor.

      Step 2: obtain access to ther roof.

      Step 3: Make sure not to be in possesion of any material objects on your person, nor to be in contact with any during the experiment (you do not want to call in question the data in your triumphant paper on the subject to be published afterwards). Also remove all clothing (necessary to prevent cheating and for an extra perceptual effect to th

    • An older quote:
      The Roman Rule:
      The one who says it cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing it.
  • by davidphogan74 ( 623610 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @04:04AM (#14901440) Homepage
    http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/03/12/busines s/news/20_27_233_10_06.txt [nctimes.com]

    Charging customers to send them into space is a lofty goal for any business owner, and perhaps particularly in an area whose economy draws much of its strength from the availability of cheap land.

    But that's the goal that Bill Sprague has set, and he even said that he chose Temecula largely because of its low cost of living relative to the coastal cities where his aerospace suppliers are based.

    Sprague is building a 52-foot rocket. By October 2007, he hopes, passengers with $250,000 to spend will be able to ride it to the edge of outer space, where the curve of the Earth is visible and where the planet's gravity is slightly weaker than at the surface.

    "If they look in any direction except at the Earth, they'll see black," Sprague said. "It'll be just the sun sitting in a sea of blackness. The stars will be visible."

    Cool article, although the fact the rocket parts are only valued at $3mil right now would make me concerned about riding in it.
  • Quantum mechanics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by coobird ( 960609 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @04:08AM (#14901452) Homepage

    Why not deal with a quantum mirage [wikipedia.org] or other quantum mechanical effects than to try to accelerate ourselves to fractions of the speed of light? Special relativity [wikipedia.org] tells us that the faster we go the massive we get, and not to mention the acceleration itself would be a huge stress to the occupants or payload, unless you want to take weeks to accelerate to high velocities.

    Why bother with those complexities when you have the possibility to "travel" faster than the speed of light by using alternative methods?

    • Re:Quantum mechanics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by VStrider ( 787148 ) <giannis_mzNO@SPAMyahoo.co.uk> on Sunday March 12, 2006 @01:50PM (#14902887)
      the faster we go the massive we get
      Not quite, but to ease your concerns, lorentz dilations is not something that you can feel/see yourself about yourself. If you're traveling near to the speed of light, you will notice these effects on other objects which don't travel with you. Observers who don't travel with you will also notice these effects on you. But that wouldn't have any effect on you whatsoever.

      Infact, there are objects in the universe that are moving away from us and we are moving away from them right now, with a speed near the speed of light. Do you feel anything?

      and not to mention the acceleration itself would be a huge stress to the occupants or payload, unless you want to take weeks to accelerate to high velocities.
      Why would we need to accelarate to such speeds? Why not warp space infront of us instead? Both the warp drive in startrek and wormholes, work with this idea. We wouldn't feel any accelaration because there wouldn't be any.

  • Good quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @04:08AM (#14901454) Homepage Journal
    "Just because you can write an equation that describes something ... doesn't mean that such an equation describes the real physics that are going on."

    As an experimentalist, it's refreshing to see someone making such a comment.

    • Re:Good quote (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Just because you can write an equation that describes something ... doesn't mean that such an equation describes the real physics that are going on."

      As an experimentalist, it's refreshing to see someone making such a comment.


      Well quite. A lot of people seem to forget (or were never taught most likely) that physics is just a model of the real world. Maths is an entirely man-made construction which is why we can achieve lofty things like proofs in maths and maths derived subjects (computing etc). Physics an
      • Re:Good quote (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gilroy ( 155262 )
        Blockquoth the poster:

        Maths is an entirely man-made construction

        Well... you need to explain how come we keep inventing esoteric math (imaginary numbers, fractal geometry, etc.) and then eventually finding places in the real world well-modeled by them.

        The question of how much of math is invented and how much is discovered, is very much an ongoing philosophical inquiry.
    • Re:Good quote (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kirn58 ( 960630 )
      As my pappy use to say,

      If your theory doesn't jive with reality, then there's something wrong with your theory.

      Yer a few variables short of an equation.
  • Nothing is impossible!

    It came to me in a dream [geocities.com]... The engines don't move the ship at all. The ship stays where it is and the engines move the universe around it!
  • The problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ardor ( 673957 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:50AM (#14901661)
    The problem I see is that while it may be possible to break the light barrier without breaking causality and using up infinite amounts of energy (and getting infinite mass), we ourselves may be keeping us from discovering it. He's right; this needs non-mainstream thinking. Creativity is severely dampened by this-is-impossible cries. Some might see a challenge in it to disprove this, but even then, the fact that it is considered impossible is cemented in the mind, thereby having an impact on creativity. Also, the fact that sometimes, the scientific community behaves like the church condemning heretics (just read the part with the difficulties getting a hearing about this exotic propulsion concepts), and that consequently, there are MANY crackpots in these "forbidden zones" which create an enormous noise, do not make things really easier. This might be too complicated for an innovation made by some weird genius in his basement, but the powers that could handle it might be too narrow-minded.
  • Sure, a few blackboards for a few mathematicians and physicists might seem like a cheap way for NASA to look like it is doing something today but stabilizing the wormhole is going to be a bitch in 24th century dollars.
    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @01:11PM (#14902752)
      > Sure, a few blackboards for a few mathematicians and physicists might seem like a cheap way for NASA to look like it is doing something

      Administrator #1: "If we start a Department of Mathematics, all we'll need to buy is pencils, papers, and erasers."

      Administrator #2: "If we start a Department of Philosophy, we wouldn't need to buy the erasers."
  • Until propellantless propulsion is invented any long range space travel is just a hallucination of virtual reality.
  • by LeDopore ( 898286 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @04:39PM (#14903520) Homepage Journal
    Disclosure: I am a neuroscientist.

    I think the most likely way we're going to get intelligence to other stars is to send AI computers, since they wouldn't mind the long wait. Even if creating AI is hard, if Moore's law holds, in 50 years we'll be able to simulate every neuron in a whole human brain on a computer in real time, so even if we don't understand intelligence, we'll be able to reproduce it. And if biological life is so important to you, send some frozen embrios (or info about their DNA on hard drives, and stock chemicals for building embrios from scratch) and artificial wombs with the computers too - let them build a colony, then defrost their kids.

    Far-fetched? In my opinion, it's much more likely than being able to keep whole humans happy on a 100 lightyear trek. Yes, Moore's law might not hold up, but I predict we'll be able to upload brains before sending our fragile bodies intact to distant stars.

    Patrick

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_

Working...