I love geekery

In honor of the 4th of July – our nation’s 233rd birthday – I thought I would break my recent streak of highly opinionated posts and list a few examples why I love being a complete nerd.

-Stephen Hawking recently spoke about how humans have entered a new stage of evolution, one which does not focus so much on the Darwinian concept of internal genetic mutations as an “external transmission phase”, where the accumulated knowledge of our forebearers has become as important to our species’ continued growth as our phospho-linked nucleotide chains.

-If fusion takes too long to become a reality, it’s cool to know that researchers have been hard at work at equally creative yet much more tangible methods of power generation, including using the waves of the ocean as well as creating “turbine kites” that fly upwards of 30,000 feet high to capture wind energy.

-Quantum encryption is inching ever closer to becoming a commercial reality.  Freaking amazing.

-While the idea of moving an object firmly anchored in spacetime faster than light is impossible, there is no property of the physical universe which prevents spacetime itself from moving at superluminal speeds (after all, it happened just after the Big Bang).  This is the foundational idea behind the theory that “warp drive” may not actually be impossible to achieve.  The idea rests upon the ability to move a “bubble” of spacetime – within which resides the ship to transport – faster than light through the universe.  There are obviously thousands of additional questions that need answers and equations that require solutions before this moves beyond the theoretical stage, in particular this one about spacetime bubbles becoming unstable at superluminal speeds.  Nonetheless, the theory is sound.

Have a wonderful 4th of July, everyone!

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About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
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2 Responses to I love geekery

  1. eksith says:

    There’s an interesting Catch 22 involved with warp drive. The Alcubierre drive, named after the inventor, seems to be the most promising. Although there are some serious technological and mathematical hurdles, it seems.

    But here’s the dilemma… For an object to be travelling within the “warp bubble” the buble must already exist.

    So for a ship to travel at warp, it must the enter this bubble. But the ship must be already at warp speed in the first place as normal spacetime doesn’t interact with the spacetime within the bubble.

    To travel at warp speed, you must already be at warp speed. 😦

    And another problem… Even if you manage to create and get into the warp bubble, exiting it once you reach your destination is a whole different problem. Again, the issue is that the two spacetime regions can’t interact.

    Other than the seemingly insurmountable task of creating, entering and exiting a warp bubble, Alcubierre drive fits all the all the other descriptions of a StarTrek style warp drive. Even down to the superluminal barrier (the warp equivalent of “Mach 1” where the first “Enterprise” would rattle and shake) and lack of time dialation. So a clock on Earth would read the exact same time as a clock travelling aboard the ship at warp.

    It’s nice that Hawking thinks we’re past biological evolution and entering technological transference phase, but as soon as genetic engineering and bio-mechanical interfaces become affordable, I’m going to town!

    I’m thinking of transfering my brain and spinal column into a cyborg frame.

    And a happy 4th to you too!

    • magsol says:

      From what I understand, the warp bubble required would be somewhat analogous to the supersonic “cone” created by aircraft flying beyond the speed of sound: the bubble would be asymmetric, pointed at the front and elongated at the rear, allowing for fluid movement through “stationary” spacetime.

      Again, from what I understand, this “warping” of the spacetime bubble would propel it, thus solving the 0-to-lightspeed problem.

      On the other end, however, you are absolutely correct; there are serious theoretical and technological issues with exiting the warp bubble which may very well prove to be the demise of warp drive before it has even begun.

      Oh dude, the first chance I get I’m implanting an iPhone into my cerebral cortex. I can Google that shit with nary a thought, and call my family at the flick of a neuron! 😀

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