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To Bearly Go?: Baylor physicists propose way to travel faster than light

Nathan Wade blogs on the Waco Tribune-Herald web site:

Baylor University physicists Gerald Cleaver and Richard Obousy have submitted a paper to ArXiv.org explaining how an engine could bend the rules of physics to travel faster than the speed of light without violating Einstein’s theory of relativity.

According to Discovery News, the proposal “involves expanding the fabric of space behind a ship into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the ship. The ship would rest in between the expanding and shrinking space-time, essentially surfing down the side of the bubble.

“The tricky part is that the ship wouldn’t actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind.

“That means that the ship would arrive at its destination faster than a beam of light traveling the same distance.”

Scientists who understand what this means and want to know more, click here.

Comments (24)

Hm, as usual in such cases, it's hard to convince myself I get the idea. "Expanding the fabric of space"?, "shrinking space-time"?, "space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft"? I've read some pop-physics (like S. Hawking) and philosophical papers on modern physics (by WL Craig, Q. Smith, and the like), but, ultimately, I just don't understand. Of course, even Feynman said no one gets it, but his relatively exact grasp was still several light years deeper than the delirium gaze I'm displaying when re-reading the thread.

(But I keep trying. Here's my short correspondence with a distinguished professor of philosophy /who also holds a degree in mathematics and physics/ on philosophical interpretation of Einstein’s theory of relativity: http://agorametaphysica.blogspot.com/2007/05/was-einstein-wrong.html )

As Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating!"

The theoretical problem is that it relies on string theory and a postulated 11th dimension.

Reminds me of the explanation in Futurama of how the Planet Express ship moved. The episode in question is A Clone of My Own. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clone_of_My_Own

I wonder whether the article actually describes how an engine could "bend the rules of physics," or whether it just merely states which rules of physics would have to be "bent"--what fantastical conditions would have to obtain for the engine to theoretically accomplish FTL travel. Every year or so somebody publishes comething that says, "Well, if we could just do X, then FTL travel/time travel/perpetual motion would be possible." Obviously, if we could bend space-time or whatever, then naturally all manner of things would be possible. But we sort of, you know, can't do that. Until someone produces a blueprint for this "hyperdrive," I'll consider it a big yawn.

I hate to sound too skeptical, but this sounds to me like the conversation of some geeky teenage boys I know who take sci-fi way too seriously.

I hate to sound too skeptical, but this sounds to me like the conversation of some geeky teenage boys I know who take sci-fi way too seriously.

Fair enough. I used to watch those awful Japanese animations with people in the robot suits and even then thinking, "Ok, kinda cool, but never gonna happen." I stand corrected: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTBeSQHEiVc. I'll grant that hyperspace-flight is of whole 'nother order of problems than mech suits, but never is a long time.

Arrg. Link don't work. Search Youtube for Future Military Robotics.

Even if this were possible, I still don't know if whether a human passenger would actually be able to survive within a ship traveling this fast.

FTL travel does not violate quantum physics, time travel does.

Although it may be important to mention that the inflationary period of the universe, which is what this engine would imitate, mostly contained a quark-gluon plasma.

Would someone explain to me the pun in the title that I'm obviously not getting? What does this have to do with bears?

Lydia states: "What does this have to do with bears?"

Bearly anything.

The Baylor University mascot (where the scientists work) is a bear.

The Baylor University mascot (where the scientists work) is a bear.

Still, that's bearly relevant here.

It's a grizzly pun, and Frank should bear the shame of it manfully, refusing the hibernatory seclusion that cyber space affords him.

Thanks, guys. :-) I'm sure C. Matt's explanation is the right one, but I don't know if I can bear it.

Darn it! Dr. Bauman beat me!

I can hardly bear it.

Is Scott referring to Robotech?

I apologize for the pun, but I could bearly contain myself. For that, I deserve punishment in a punitentiary? I understand that grizzly things go on there. So, I'm not sure I can bear the burden. Maybe I should ask my Paw, Claude?

I find the whole affair rather bear-densome especially in light of what's been a bear market, which adds to my feeling ever more bearish.

I'm sorry, what was this post about again?

This is too much work and waste of money, Padre Pio did it best; bilocation...hehehe.

Yeah . . . Miguel Alcubierre was doing that in the mid-90's. Old news.

I am a trog... but the thought occurs to me that somehow if space can move around a ship, maybe geocentrists are on to something after all!

I hate to sound too skeptical, but this sounds to me like the conversation of some geeky teenage boys I know who take sci-fi way too seriously.

That's precisely what it is. These guys all read Frank Herbert's DUNE chronicles (circa '65) as kids. The Spacing Guild travels by "folding space," hence, traveling without moving. But you know what they say about today's science fiction. There was another sci-fi movie out a while back (EVENT HORIZON, 1997) where intergalactic travel was accomplish by a "gravity drive" on the ship. A small black hole was formed, pulling together two radically distant sections of space, and then the ship slips through it.

Like the Alcuberrie warp drive, this warp drive concept would require enormous amounts of "negative" energy to generate. Neither are possible with projected advances in technology. Also, this warp drive concept is based on String Theory, which is currently not testable. Since testability is the definition of science, it is premature to call String Theory "science".

Perhaps, in the future, we can make wormholes instead, since they would appear to require less "negative" energy than any kind of warpdrive.

Have a look at:

Also, no new theory is required for wormholes, since they are derived from GR.

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