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 Post subject: Implications of an Alcubierre Drive?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:03 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:13 am
Posts: 2
Not sure if this is the right place to post this but here goes...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

I was looking at this article on the theoretical Alcubierre Drive. Has anyone seen any notes or articles on the scifi combat implications on this drive? I'm interested in finding out the following:

Assuming we are at a point where we are able to; construct, power and operate such a drive at FTL speeds then what are the implications or limitations of;
1) Two ships running the drive colliding,
2) Weapons fire into or out of the bubble,
3) Passive and Active Sensor readings into and out of the bubble.

Anyone seen anything or know anything about the subject?

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 Post subject: Re: Implications of an Alcubierre Drive?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:07 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, WI
James Doxey wrote:
Not sure if this is the right place to post this but here goes...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

I was looking at this article on the theoretical Alcubierre Drive. Has anyone seen any notes or articles on the scifi combat implications on this drive? I'm interested in finding out the following:

Assuming we are at a point where we are able to; construct, power and operate such a drive at FTL speeds then what are the implications or limitations of;
1) Two ships running the drive colliding,
2) Weapons fire into or out of the bubble,
3) Passive and Active Sensor readings into and out of the bubble.

Anyone seen anything or know anything about the subject?


I'll be honest - I havn't put a lot of thought into how I'd game out an Alcubierre drive. I suspect that you'd be blind while the bubble was up, and I'd be tremendously surprised if you could fire weapons into or out of it.

Two ships colliding would probably be Docsmithian in its impact. Perhaps the Gamma Ray Burst we witnessed from 7.5 billion light years away was an Alcubierre drive fender bender...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2005 4:10 pm
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Location: Edmonton, AB
(Crossposted with Ken.)

The Alcubierre metric is (nearly?) discontinuous at the edges of the 'bubble'. Basically, the drive only works if you can "moosh" the curvature of space into the right shape, and that shape - at the edges of the bubble - is very problematic.

So a lot of the answers here will have to do with how the bubble is being generated and sustained. Since we have no good proposals on how the mechanics of such a thing would work, any answers will probably depend somewhat on how this is flibberdigasted into existence.

But, just offhand, I'd anticipate:

1a) Assuming no "external mechanisms" (tachyon machines, etc) are necessary outside the bubble, the edges themselves would probably interfere with one another - in the technical sense of wave interference, basically. Which leads to the amusing image of two Alcubierre ships colliding head-on by sudden interference in their wavefronts causing (say) a high, no-longer-flat, interior curvature in one another's bubbles... throwing them toward each other at relativistic accelerations. Ow.

1b) It is clear that the effects outside the bubble are pretty fierce. See the Cramer article linked off the Wikipedia entry... he describes it as massive compressive forces on the nuclei immediately preceding the bubble, producing a series of micro-big-bangs as a leading "shockwave" from the bubble. I shudder to think what would happen if, after passing through the preceding bubble (without, say, having had time to actually destroy said bubble etc), that effect encountered my ship superimposed on the locally flat space inside. Foom.

2) It seems clear that physical projectiles are of course right out - unless your idea of a weapon is to generate said nano-big-bang as a spherical wave emanating from a point source on your hull. Not bad... except that you already do so as a function of space being not quite empty, and interesting (inhabited) space being even less so. What the discontinuous metric would do to photons... hm. This may in fact be a quantum gravity question at that point.

I suspect, however, that the offset between simply asking this question at all and the tech required to create a customized spacetime metric is so great that the question mostly loses its meaning. It would probably, for example, be much easier to generate a black hole inside the opponent's spaceship from afar (tachyon machines again, maybe?), than to make even a basic Alcubierre drive function in the first place. Or to generate said micro-big-bang there, same story. Or the Alcubierre equivalent of a kinetic kill weapon, bringing us back to question #1. Or the version which, rather than a bubble, looks like a 1D infinite line - through the opponent's ship. (Aim carefully out both ends!)

It's like asking what magnetized crossbow quarrels would look like when fired from, or into, a non-matter-based superconducting shell. The assumptions on how we made the shell are the entire answer to the question.

3) Same answer. At a guess, though, the same kinds of data we'd need to measure whether an early proto-Alcubierre drive was even working, are orders of magnitude more sophisticated than pretty much anything we might want to know about the ship inside it. So to first order, I'd posit perfect sensor data for everybody in the fight, as the hypothesis least inconsistent with our lemma.



I know that doesn't necessarily help... but the Alcubierre drive really is a case of saying "if the world were magically nonflat in a very special way, then we'd see the following behaviour." Magically is a necessary part of the description. If you get to custom-craft the spacetime metric, you can do anything you want. Except get a decent pizza at 4AM on Bela Tegeuse, of course.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:13 am
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Thanks guys. I more or less expected the answers I got.

Much appreciated

James


PS: Love the word: flibberdigasted, I'm going to see if I can get that into conversation at work tomorrow.

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