Warp drives may come with a killer downside

Mar 01, 2012 by Jason Major, Universe Today
Dropping out of warp speed could have deadly results. Credit: Paramount Pictures/CBS Studios

Planning a little space travel to see some friends on Kepler 22b? Thinking of trying out your newly-installed FTL3000 Alcubierre Warp Drive to get you there in no time? Better not make it a surprise visit — your arrival may end up disintegrating anyone there when you show up.

“Warp” technology and faster-than-light (FTL) space travel has been a staple of science fiction for decades. The distances in space are just so vast and planetary systems — even within a single galaxy — are spaced so far apart, such a concept is needed to make casual human exploration feasible (and fit within the comforts of people’s imagination as well… nobody wants to think about Kirk and Spock bravely going to some alien planet while everyone they’ve ever known dies of old age!)

While many factors involving FTL travel are purely theoretical — and may remain in the realm of imagination for a very long time, if not ever — there are some concepts that play well with currently-accepted physics.

The Alcubierre warp drive is one of those concepts.

Proposed by Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994, the drive would propel a ship at superluminal speeds by creating a bubble of negative energy around it, expanding space (and time) behind the ship while compressing space in front of it. In much the same way that a surfer rides a wave, the bubble of space containing the ship and its passengers would be pushed at velocities not limited to the speed of light toward a destination.

Of course, when the ship reaches its destination it has to stop. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Warp field according to the Alcubierre drive. Credit: AllenMcC

Researchers from the University of Sydney have done some advanced crunching of numbers regarding the effects of FTL via Alcubierre drive, taking into consideration the many types of cosmic particles that would be encountered along the way. Space is not just an empty void between point A and point B… rather, it’s full of particles that have mass (as well as some that do not.) What the research team — led by Brendan McMonigal, Geraint Lewis, and Philip O’Byrne — has found is that these particles can get “swept up” into the warp bubble and focused into regions before and behind the ship, as well as within the warp bubble itself.

When the Alcubierre-driven ship decelerates from superluminal speed, the particles its bubble has gathered are released in energetic outbursts. In the case of forward-facing particles the outburst can be very energetic — enough to destroy anyone at the destination directly in front of the ship.

“Any people at the destination,” the team’s paper concludes, “would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion due to the extreme blueshifts for [forward] region particles.”

In other words, don’t expect much of a welcome party.

Another thing the team found is that the amount of energy released is dependent on the length of the superluminal journey, but there is potentially no limit on its intensity.

“Interestingly, the energy burst released upon arriving at the destination does not have an upper limit,” McMonigal told Universe Today in an email. “You can just keep on traveling for longer and longer distances to increase the energy that will be released as much as you like, one of the odd effects of General Relativity. Unfortunately, even for very short journeys the energy released is so large that you would completely obliterate anything in front of you.”

So how to avoid disintegrating your port of call? It may be as simple as just aiming your vessel a bit off to the side… or, it may not. The research only focused on the planar space in front of and behind the warp bubble; deadly postwarp particle beams could end up blown in all directions!

Luckily for Vulcans, Tatooinians and any acquaintances on 22b, the Alcubierre warp drive is still very much theoretical. While the mechanics work with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the creation of negative energy densities is an as-of-yet unknown technology — and may be impossible.

Which could be a very good thing for us, should someone out there be planning a surprise visit our way!

Read more about Alcubierre warp drives here, and you can download the full University of Sydney team’s research paper here.

Explore further: X-ray powder diffraction beamline at NSLS-II takes first beam and first data

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User comments : 55

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Sean_W
3.5 / 5 (8) Mar 01, 2012
Talk about your photon torpedoes. How far would you need to go before the stop unleashed enough energy to create a black hole?
SoylentGrin
4.5 / 5 (8) Mar 01, 2012
Have we detected any unexplained gamma ray bursts?
tpb
3.3 / 5 (7) Mar 01, 2012
The energetic outburst can't have more energy coming out than was put in to accelerate the ship.
JES
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
Let's see, the maximum speed of any particle would theoretically be just short of the speed of light. Yet, this proposes that this is not true as particles are swept away in the wake of the the bubble (my own naive interpretation). Hence, since such particles are travelling outside the bubble, the maximum speed limit has been broken....??
Kayleb
5 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2012
@tpb It could because the energy of the particles it receives on the way is unrelated to the mass of the ship, correct?

@JES True, but he did mention some particles being inside of the bubble.
illicited
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2012
@soylent there are unexplained GRB's currently. Interesting thought. @tpb the energy getting trapped in the bubble has nothing to do with the energy required to move the ship
hyongx
4.1 / 5 (17) Mar 01, 2012
"the creation of negative energy densities is an as-of-yet unknown technology "
False! Many things have negative energy density. Example, television, or the internet. Whenever I watch these, the energy just drains out of me.
DaFranker
4.1 / 5 (9) Mar 01, 2012
The energetic outburst can't have more energy coming out than was put in to accelerate the ship.

Wrong. Think of it this way: You have a Space Train that runs on an undiscovered chemical reaction between Milk and Bubblegum. This chemical reaction excites any Helium nearby through unknown effects and causes the Helium to spontaneously fission, releasing lots of nuclear radiation that is fortunately captured by the Milk-Bubblegum reaction and causes it to follow the Space Train until it stops.

As the Space Train moves around, it occasionally runs straight into small pockets of helium that just happened to be traveling slowly on the Train's path.

What happens when the Space Train stops? All that energy from the fissioned helium still has forward momentum, and was accumulated there in front of the Train bigger and bigger all this time. Now it keeps moving, the Train doesn't. BOOM.

Please note that the above is pure fantasy meant only as an explanative analogy.
Lurker2358
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
The energetic outburst can't have more energy coming out than was put in to accelerate the ship.


The drive causes space to become "time-like free fall," which means that the universe itself accelerates the ship. Max velocity has little to do with fuel costs.

Effectively, it is drawing energy from the background by default. An analogy would be a solar sale. You don't need fuel, because the star is the fuel source. Here, you don't need fuel above what it costs to maintain the field, because the universe itself should push the craft once the field is produced.

Problem is, the ship builds up a "wall" of particles and photons in the leading edge of the bubble which gets more and more blue shifted as it flies along.

So when you stop, it releases all of the energy equivalent of those photons and particles, which is going to be a huge amount.

The paper itself used the term "blasted to oblivion" regarding people at the destination, and suggest heavy shielding for the passengers.
zsingerb
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 01, 2012
This is why the Enterprise has a navigational deflection shield, and why Warp drive is not used near a gravity well, but usually just outside the planetary orbit.
Deathclock
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2012
sounds like layers of speculation to me...
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2012
It sounds like this is the FTL equivalent of a shock wave, so isn't that surprising. Think of the "sonic boom" from a supersonic aircraft, where the air can't get out of its way fast enough.

On the other hand, like any radiation, it should be subject to the inverse square law. Drop out of FTL in the Kuiper Belt and the radiation would have spread out before it reaches the inner system.
RitchieGuy
2 / 5 (4) Mar 01, 2012
LOL. . .the whole article is speculation. But the speculation is sound, IMO. Unfortunately, particles and photons have no braking system so the momentum is maintained despite the ship slowing down in orbit around a planet and thrusters shut down. Even if the ship's crew were able to blow these particles away while the ship is in warp drive, it would still continue to accumulate more particles. However, said particles could be put to good use to power the ship; maybe even facilitate communications. Pure conjecture, of course. Perhaps Federation Captain Lurker or Admiral Deathclock might have better ideas. :)
Modernmystic
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2012
@tpb It could because the energy of the particles it receives on the way is unrelated to the mass of the ship, correct?


I think he was talking about the first law of thermodynamics, which wouldn't have anything to do with the mass of the ship, but only the energy expended to operate the drive.

Unless you "pick up" so many particles along the way it's the equivalent of a GRB (unlikely).

Sonhouse
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2012
This is why the Enterprise has a navigational deflection shield, and why Warp drive is not used near a gravity well, but usually just outside the planetary orbit.


So if it was far enough away to avoid damage, it would sure be a great way to announce an arrival:)
jimbo92107
4.9 / 5 (20) Mar 01, 2012
"Captain's Log, star date 2099: We have arrived at our 40th habitable star system, but as yet we have found nothing living. Evidence suggests that some sort of energy beam has killed all inhabitants of these planets. What could it be? Romulans? Perhaps we will have better luck with the next star system..."
Lurker2358
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2012
However, said particles could be put to good use to power the ship; maybe even facilitate communications. Pure conjecture, of course. Perhaps Federation Captain Lurker or Admiral Deathclock might have better ideas. :)


Did you read the paper? I did.

However, said particles could be put to good use to power the ship; maybe even facilitate communications.


You didn't read the paper. LOL.

By my estimation, if there's an average of one proton or neutron per cubic meter of space, and your ship is big, with a fuselage of 50m radius, and you also count the last light year worth of photons absorbed coming from the target star, then after a 20 lys journey, there should be around 6.89 megatons equivalent of excess energy accumulated in the particles and rays.

It's like detonating a 100% efficient nuke. I doubt any ship could survive it, unless you had several meters of lead and concrete shielding on the leading side.
typicalguy
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2012
Slow the warp bubble over time and aim your ship at the host star. Orbit the star and throw the particles into it.
JES
5 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2012
Feel that the term "shock wave" finally gained its proper meaning..
Myno
5 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2012
jimbo92107 ...

Great cover story for the Federation's Operation Land Grab!
Rohitasch
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
"the creation of negative energy densities is an as-of-yet unknown technology "
False! Many things have negative energy density. Example, television, or the internet. Whenever I watch these, the energy just drains out of me.


Holy crap! That's why one gets attracted to them and ends up stuck to them!
The question is, does one shine just about when one gets attracted to them?
Callippo
1.4 / 5 (11) Mar 01, 2012
This is what the physicists are good for. The useful research is way less popular between these parasites.
Lurker2358
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2012
This is what the physicists are good for. The useful research is way less popular between these parasites.


What if it ends up being true though?

What if we can fly to the other side of the universe in a ship?

Humans could populate every planet on every star in the universe.

muhuhahahaha
Deathclock
4.4 / 5 (8) Mar 01, 2012
Humans could populate every planet on every star in the universe.

muhuhahahaha


Reminds me of a comic strip, the earth says to the moon "hey baby, let's orbit!", the moon replies "I don't want to become infected", the earth assures the moon "Don't worry, it's not contagious".... in the last frame you see Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon.
Xynos21
2.7 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2012
Seems like a win/win to me. Developing FTL travel and FTL strike capabilities at the same time. This should be sure to make us the supreme species of the universe. Providing of course no other aliens have developed this technology before us. I could see this 'side effect' becoming the main reason for funding this kind of technology, assuming this ever entered into the realm of possibility of course.
bredmond
3 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2012
We could use this as a weapon against the Klingons.
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2012
If we had the energy needed for FTL travel we wouldn't need this for a weapon. Accelerate a 100 meter asteroid to 0.99c and it would probably split the Earth. It would certainly render the surface uninhabitable.
Deathclock
4 / 5 (4) Mar 01, 2012
Vesta has a density of 3.42g/cm^3

100 meter diameter, 4/3 Pi*r^3 = (4/3)Pi*125000 = (4/3)*392699 = 523598m^3 * 100 = 52,359,833cm^3 * 3.42g/cm^3 = 179,070,630g

So an asteroid with a 100 meter diameter with the same density as Vesta would have a mass just over 179,000 kilograms.

c = 299,792,458m/s, 0.99c = 296,794,533m/s

KE = .5mv^2 = .5(179,000kg)(296,794,533m/s)^2 = .5(179,000kg)(88,086,995,067,995,496m^2/s^2) = 7,883,786,058,585,596,972,227kg * m^2/s^2

1 joule = 1kg * m^2/s^2

So, an asteroid of that size and density travelling at .99c would have a kinetic energy of 7,883,786,058,585,596,972,227 joules... I don't even know what that number is... 7.8 sextillion? Is that right?

In any case, Tsar Bomba was a 50 megaton nuclear bomb developed by the russians, the most powerful bomb ever detonated... 50 megatons is equivalent to 209,200,000,000,000,000 (209 quadrillion) joules. This collision would be equivalent to the simultaneous detonation of 37685 Tsar Bomba's...
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2012
I think sextillion is right, at least in American usage.

Since the comments are heavy on Star Trek, here's another number. Using the figures in the Next Generation Technical Manual, a photon torpedo has more kinetic than explosive energy at any velocity above 0.155c, and using the relativistic formulas, actually has 26 times as much KE as explosive energy at 0.75c, which seems to have been the torpedo's standard velocity. They could have saved a lot of money, and made handling them safer, with minimal loss of effectiveness, by replacing the antimatter warhead with a chunk of rock!
Billy_Madison
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
What would create negative energy? Anti-matter?
alfie_null
5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2012
If the universe were full of little green men, and they were employing this technique to travel, communicate, or perhaps sterilize nearby star systems, would we be able to detect these energy releases? Would they have a unique signature vs. other cosmological phenomena?
Kinedryl
1 / 5 (8) Mar 02, 2012
What if it ends up being true though? What if we can fly to the other side of the universe in a ship?
What if the cold fusion is true at the very end? But apparently physicists are just doing, what the laymans want it this point. The prioritization of research is ignored, until grant money are going.
visual
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
What if we can fly to the other side of the universe in a ship?
Humans could populate every planet on every star in the universe.

Humans can very well do that within the constraints of relativity too, without any FTL travel. Our galaxy is just 100 000 ly in diameter, and the time to cross it is quite insignificant compared to cosmoligical scale intervals.

And see the "Long Relativistic Journeys" section here:
http://www.cthree...h1.shtml
With a comfortable 1G acceleration, the on-board time of the trip across the whole galaxy diameter is under 23 years. That would mean it is even possible to happen to you in your own lifetime, no matter how old you are :p

And if we can come up with some field-based propulsion system that can apply the acceleration evenly across the whole ship as opposed to propagate it with stress forces, then acceleration can safely be much greater. 100Gs will get us across in under 3 months, 1000Gs in two weeks.
visual
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
Ok, you talked about the whole universe and not just the galaxy... and the above linked calculator sort of freaks out with too big distances.
Here is another:
http://www.conver...tor.html

So we can get even as far as the Hubble radius, in about 45 years of 1G acceleration. Or just 22 days of 1000G acceleration.

So the fact remains, that once we find a way to get arbitrarily close to lightspeed, we can travel to anywhere in a feasibly short amount of time, from our own point of view anyway. We do not need FTL.

So I am sure at some point we will start spreading through the universe at the speed of light, settling every suitable place we can detect. Which makes me wonder, how come some other civilisation hasn't happened to do the same yet, but this it a whole different topic so I'll stop now.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Mar 02, 2012
The research only focused on the planar space in front of and behind the warp bubble; deadly postwarp particle beams could end up blown in all directions!

Well, I wouldn't worry too much about the destination (stopping some ways away would give the energy front enough time to dissipate to harmless levels). But what about yourself? If it goes in all directions then you and your craft might be in serious trouble.

don't expect much of a welcome party.

Sounds a lot like Douglas Adams' idea of powering ships by bad news (since nothing travles faster than bad news)
Turns out, however, that ships powered by bad news are never popular when they get anywhere.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2012
What would create negative energy?

Negative energy densities can be (and have been) created. The problem is that they are always accompanied by a larger, compensating positive energy density shortly after - so the laws of thermodynamics aren't being violated.
The Casimir Effect is one such occurence.
http://www.biblio...ergy.htm

Anti-matter?

Antimatter is positive energy - so that doesn't help here.
E.g. when an atom decays via beta decay the beta particle (which is the anti-particle to the electron) is a positive contribution to the energy equation.

So the fact remains, that once we find a way to get arbitrarily close to lightspeed, we can travel to anywhere in a feasibly short amount of time

While getting blown to pieces and fried by every atom we encounter along the way at those speeds. Just a niggeling detail, I know.
visual
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
While getting blown to pieces and fried by every atom we encounter along the way at those speeds. Just a niggeling detail, I know.

Dealing with that is supposed to be a part of "find a way to get arbitrarily close to lightspeed" :p
Perhaps some effect like what's used in current "invisibility cloak" research with metamaterials may allow deflecting such obstacles in a path that flows around the craft and then returns them to their original trajectory.
Or, we just use the highest speeds in empty, intergalactic space and stick to a safer limit when near matter.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
What would create negative energy? Anti-matter?


Putting two metal plates very very close together creates negative energy density.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
I never understood how they distinguished vacuum energy from simple gravitational attraction of the metal plates in the Cassimir experiments... can someone explain that real quick or should I just look it up?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
I never understood how they distinguished vacuum energy from simple gravitational attraction of the metal plates

Gravity decreases with distance squared.
Casimir effect decreases with the fourth power of the distance.

In the data the two effects are pretty easy to tell apart. (though the experiments themselves are far from easy)

Or, we just use the highest speeds in empty, intergalactic space and stick to a safer limit when near matter.

Unfortunately those speeds are so low that time dilation doesn't figure, yet. Even at 0.2c you run into problems with intergalactic atoms - let alone dust or micrometeories which would be like exploding hydrogen bombs in front of your ship(!)

Time dilation only gets noticeable at close to c (0.95c or thereabouts)

Speeding up/slowing down for matter is not an option. Look-ahead distances and braking times at those speeds are enormous. You'd need to be able to detect grains of sand at interplanetary distances.
nkalanaga
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Let's see. At 0.1c it would take 45 years to reach the nearest star. So, we build a large space station, pack it with enough fuel to keep the lights and heat on for 50 years, factories to make anything we need, and grow our own food. Once we reach our destination, we refine comets to replenish the fuel, and asteroids for metal to expand the station. In another 45 years, we've built a second station, and send it to the next star. Effective travel speed is 0.05c. At that rate we'll cross the galaxy in 2,000,000 years. A long time, yes, but in the process we've colonized every system with enough resources to support a station. The final colonists may no longer be "Homo Sapiens", but they will be our genetic descendants.

The "C J Cherryh System of Galactic Colonization", certainly not original to me.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
At that rate we'll cross the galaxy in 2,000,000 years.

To what point and purpose?
By then we will have either engineered our bodies (or abandoned them for artificial ones) to not need planets anymore.
Once we get out of the gravity well of Earth the "DNA-system" of evolution for adaptation is pretty much useless. It only works for small changes in the environment (or large ones stretched over looooong times).
But wherever we go we must expect to find radically different environments. And if we actualy get terraforming going then by that time we can just use asteroids - no need for planets at all.

Such 'long term strategies' completely ignore the very real research results already obtained. They always assume humans will stay the same as they are now (physically and psychologically). That's foolish. At the latest when we reach (near) immortality (by whatever means) we'll not want to live close to planets/stars anymore. Much too dangerous.
nkalanaga
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Possibly, but my point was that we COULD do it, not that we WOULD. And, even if the scenario you suggest is true, there will probably be humans who choose not to evolve to the next level. Those "traditionalists" could still expand the old-fashioned way into systems that the "advanced" groups no longer want.
typicalguy
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
Seems like a win/win to me. Developing FTL travel and FTL strike capabilities at the same time. This should be sure to make us the supreme species of the universe. Providing of course no other aliens have developed this technology before us. I could see this 'side effect' becoming the main reason for funding this kind of technology, assuming this ever entered into the realm of possibility of course.


Is this technology is possible, how advanced would a species have to be to develop it? Assuming the earliest possible life took as long as we did to evolve...how long have they been around now? The first billion years were no good, the next billion years were needed for heavy metals to form. Then roughly 5 billion years for their star system to form and intelligent life to evolve. SO out of 13 billion years, it would take at least 7 billion for intelligent life to evolve to our level. So there could be intelligent alien races that are as much as 5 billion years old...
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2012
So an asteroid with a 100 meter diameter with the same density as Vesta would have a mass just over 179,000 kilograms.


No. It's a hell of a lot more than that.

You just gave the mass of roughly 100 cubic yards of concrete.

100 meter DIAMETER is 523,600 cubic meters.

When converting cubic meters to cubic centimeters you'd need to multiply by 100^3, not 100.

So your mass should be 1,790,712,000 kilograms.

So your kinetic Energy is 7.887E25 Joules.

Which is close to 377 MILLION Tsar Bombas.

Eikka
not rated yet Mar 04, 2012
You forget that there's a fundamental flaw to the warp drive that was discovered in one Star Trek episode.

Space hippies showed Picard that running around at warp speed wears out the fabric of space and time, and eventually tears holes in it.
Baseline
not rated yet Mar 04, 2012
This is what the physicists are good for. The useful research is way less popular between these parasites.


What if it ends up being true though?

What if we can fly to the other side of the universe in a ship?

Humans could populate every planet on every star in the universe.

muhuhahahaha


I wish it would turn out to be true so I could use it to get very far away from people that believe in an invisible man in the sky that controls everything.
MorituriMax
5 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2012
So THAT'S what all those gamma ray bursts we keep seeing are!
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2012
If you were an ET could you travel FTL? One possible way would be to travel in another parallel universe where the laws of physics are not the same as our laws. The second way would be to travel in the first dimension. The first choice should be available to us within fifty years. The second choice should be available to us in about one thousand years.
Osiris1
not rated yet Mar 05, 2012
The Alcubierre system does not require movement of the ship. IT stays still! The ship is in the dynamic 'eye' of a quasi-static bubble of stable space similar to the eye of a hurricane in three dimensional space...or more, heh...heh..! It is the space that contracts in front and expands in the back. Various accounts from folks that claimed to have conversed with our stellar visitors from time to time: have said that starting their 'star drive' on or near to a planet would release enough energy to destroy a continental land mass, so just starting the machine is a no go near a planet; and it would be wise to end the journey far away from any planets...actually best to end up a few million miles above or below any planetary orbital plane. Here it is assumed that any stellar traveler would have powerful sublight drives aboard any true starship. Mr Chang-Diaz's VASIMR, a bit improved on, would be a candidate but not for gravity wells. Mirror Fusion machines even better.
Osiris1
not rated yet Mar 05, 2012
Which leads to the next problem, power generation. An astronaut, maybe Buzz Aldrin, said that a man could fly a brick if it had enough power. And so it is when we go to space. We NEED to be able to generate massive amounts of power in a small space....and to be able to convey that power over distances to devices that are able to use that power. AIN'T gonna happen with what we have now...copper...aluminum, etc. Maybe some super-conductors or direct fed proton plasma from fusion reactors using magnetoelectrohydrodynamics. Interesting if we could make and use some antimatter. But for that we would have to be able to stabilize it in close proximity with normal matter. Who knows what kinds of fields antimatter coils would generate...anti-energy maybe, or negative energy? How about charmed or strange matter, or in combination. We would have to make a lot of it. Probably have to use an off planet 'hot lab' to contain any 'mistakes'...some isolated asteroid in stable orbit.
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (2) Mar 05, 2012
Various accounts from folks that claimed to have conversed with our stellar visitors from time to time: have said that starting their 'star drive' on or near to a planet would release enough energy to destroy a continental land mass.
I have never heard of that before. Can you provide a source or link?
rbrtwjohnson
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2012
Matter-antimatter annihilation can cause warp drive to be very unstable and unsafe. On the other hand, helium-3 fusion reaction can generate clean energy enough to power safely the starship's warp drive.
http://www.youtub...wyr5Udzw
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2012
Matter-antimatter annihilation can cause warp drive to be very unstable and unsafe

What has the one got to do with the other?
That's like saying: "Burning coal makes rubber ducks unsafe."

On the other hand, helium-3 fusion reaction can generate clean energy enough to power safely the starship's warp drive.

No. Read up on the drive. It requires MASSIVE amounts of energy. At best for a cross galactic trip we're talking about the TOTAL energy content of three solar masses (100% conversion via E equals Mc squared).*

(*much less if hypothetical particles like tachyons exist - but we haven't found any yet. So at this point it's like saying "if god pushes us we need less")
derricka
5 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2012
Sounds like the plot from a 1975 episode of 'Space 1999', in which radiation emitted by a probe from Earth, wipes out most of the inhabitants of an alien world. Some remaining aliens seek revenge, and follow the probe on it's return journey to Earth. You can watch the whole episode, titled 'Voyagers Return', on YouTube:

http://www.youtub...YwNMVshk

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