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New method would not break Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Virtually all science fiction that involves intergalactic travel or convenient travel between planets in our own solar system revolves around faster than light travel. One problem with many theories for faster than light travel is the proposed methods would violate Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Two physicists from Baylor University have theorized what they believe to be a method of faster than light travel that would not break the Theory of Relativity. Einstein's Theory of Relativity states that objects accelerating to the speed of light require an infinite amount of energy.

The physicists -- Gerald Cleaver and Richard Obousy -- have theorized a new idea for faster than light travel that involves manipulating dark energy to propel a spacecraft. According to Space.com the universe -- in theory -- moved faster than light for a short time after the Big Bang, propelled by dark energy which represents about 74% of the mass energy budget in the universe. Space.com goes on to say that, 22% of the mass energy budget consists of dark matter and what remains of the mass-energy budget in the universe being made up of stars, planets and other things we see.

Some current evidence supports the theory that the fabric of space-time can expand faster than the speed of light. This is said to be because the reality which light travels is expanding itself.

The Baylor physicists took a recent idea in string theory to devise a method of manipulating dark energy to accelerate a spaceship based on the Alcubierre drive. The Alcubierre drive works on the principle -- in theory -- that expanding space-time behind a ship and reducing space-time in front of the ship would result in propulsion at faster than light speeds.

Cleaver said, "Think of it [faster than light travel] like a surfer riding a wave. The ship would be pushed by the spatial bubble and the bubble would be traveling faster than the speed of light."

It is believed that 10 dimensions exist, with six of them being largely unknown. M-theory suggests that hypothetical one-dimensional strings vibrate in yet another dimension. Cleaver and Obousy theorize that manipulating the dimension the strings vibrate in would alter dark energy in height, width, and length to permit a spaceship to take advantage of dark energy's effect on the universe.

Cleaver told Space.com, "The dark energy is simultaneously decreased just in front of the ship to decrease (and bring to a stop) the expansion rate of the universe in front of the ship. If the dark energy can be made negative directly in front of the ship, then space in front of the ship would locally contract."

While the whole theory hardly sounds simple, one of the greatest problems is the amount of energy required to propel a ship using this method. The physicists estimate that to move a small ship -- measuring approximately 33-feet x 33-feet -- would require energy equivalent to the entire mass of Jupiter.

Cleaver continued saying, "That is an enormous amount of energy. We are still a very long ways off before we could create something to harness that type of energy."



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Theories...
By bobsmith1492 on 8/22/2008 8:15:30 AM , Rating: -1
1. Has anyone proved that dark matter actually even exists or found any or know what its properties are?

2. Aren't most physicists generally skeptical about string theory?

It seems like most science news on this site is just whichever scientists comes up with the most exciting-sounding idea and sends it off to the media who, naturally, jumps all over it without having any idea if it is plausible. Think cold fusion and unintended acceleration...




RE: Theories...
By NullSubroutine on 8/22/2008 9:51:41 AM , Rating: 3
1. Yes I believe so, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy not saying wikipedia is the end all be all, but you should at least get an idea.

2. It is really not necessarily that they are skeptical about string theory (there are many different types) it's that all of them are generally incomplete.

The other problem you have is that they often are describing similar phenomenon in different ways. There are also other theories that attempt to combine all the String and similar theories in a single unified theory, but none are completely mathematically sound as they fail to 'cover' everything.

What you can pretty much bet on is that there are more than 4 dimensions and there are many pieces of the puzzle that are not explained. It goes back to the similar analogy of having 5 blind men describe an elephant, they describe different things based on their touch, but it's all the same elephant.


RE: Theories...
By fishbits on 8/22/2008 10:29:13 AM , Rating: 5
Sources like Space.com are extremely lax on how dark matter/energy are presented. Sometimes dark matter is just ordinary matter we're unable to observe yet, sometimes it is written about as a magical form of matter that inherently can't be directly detected, yet definitely exits instead of being a theory.

So for the time being, we've got equation-balancing wildcards flung about casually. "Well, my idea could work, if we use dark energy. Since it is undefined and unobservable, there's no reason I can't pretend it will make my notion work."

"2+2=35. Well, you see, there are 'dark integers' on the left side of the equation. They behave like regular integers with the values I want, when I want them too. When I don't, well, they are simply not there. No, I'm not going to consider that my assumptions that don't conform to observable reality may be wrong." Scientific method takes a shot to the jimmies. There may be some grain of truth behind dark matter/energy, but the unscrupulous have run wild with the notions.


RE: Theories...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/22/2008 12:15:28 PM , Rating: 4
Dark matter is never just 'ordinary matter' that we haven't yet observed. It's unobservable...with light at least; we observe it by detecting its gravitational effects.

Though in my own personal opinion, MOND (modified Newtonian Dynamics) is a more elegant explanation of the data than Dark Matter, but contemporary thought definitely strongly supports DM/DE.


RE: Theories...
By NullSubroutine on 8/22/2008 12:48:49 PM , Rating: 2
I personally think many of the troubles of the calculation of gravitational effects and acceleration is due to the fact there is no real 'zero point' in space/time. All stars, galaxies, etc are moving and there is no reference point that isn't moving.

Add that to the fact that space/time is expanding in the universe complicates matters more. I mean when everything is in motion and nothing that we know of isn't moving in a certain direction, is there really a safe point that we check mathematical hypotheses against observational data? We can easily calculate distance because of red shift, but there is no stopped point for us to accurately observe acceleration.

I looked over MOND and I wouldn't necessarily put it over Dark Matter, but I would definately put it over Luminiferous aether.


RE: Theories...
By MatthiasF on 8/22/2008 6:00:42 PM , Rating: 2
I agree somewhat albeit for a different reason.

There can never be a perfect "zero point". Everything is changing constantly, either by movement, density, energy, etc. whatever you want to call it. The only way to do precise measurements is with a reference as you suggest, and many of the references made by mankind are all abstractions based off what we encounter and is typically ruled by politics (meter, Pascal, Watt). There is really no known way to provide an absolute reference between two objects because we are part of deciding how to measure and it's typically too arbitrary to be truly helpful.

The best we can do is use multiple sources to calibrate our data. Most of our data is not calibrated well, as is the case with the red shift data that is so often used to push theories on expansion. Had we one or two move points of reference from which to calibrate (another solar system, galaxy, etc.), we could get a more accurate picture of what's going on. The more points, spaced out, at higher resolution, would yield the best results for this calibration.

Unfortunately, we can't do this yet, because we don't have interstellar ships. So, how do we learn how to travel between stars when we need to get data from other stars?

In comes the use of heavy objects in space, like Quasars, dwarfs, etc., being used as lenses. Still not all that accurate because it's being read from a single point, but at least it adds more dimension to our observations.

If we could send a signal to a lense and watch the response, we could calibrate lenses and use them to build the calibrated data we need. Only problem, it takes way too long to wait for a response (millions if not billions of years).

So, it seems we're in a conundrum. Anyone have any ideas how to get out of this rut? Could be a Noble Prize waiting for you.


RE: Theories...
By fishbits on 8/22/2008 2:36:41 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Dark matter is never just 'ordinary matter' that we haven't yet observed.
As I said originally, when dealing with lax sources like Space.com, it is.
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/da...
quote:
Astronomers Image Red Dwarf Star, One Type of Dark Matter
...
There are two types of dark matter, however.

Some, like the newly imaged red dwarf star, represents regular old matter wrapped up in hard-to-spot packages -- cold, dim stars that aren't readily observable with present technology...
Truly exotic dark matter, on the other hand, is thought to be made of invisible particles that have yet to be detected. ...
quote:
'Groundbreaking' Discovery: First Direct Observation of Dark Matter
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/mi...

If you wish to say that there aren't sources who apply the term "dark matter" to both cases, I'm afraid that's not true.


RE: Theories...
By MozeeToby on 8/22/2008 2:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that there are two kinds of 'dark matter'.

One is matter that is literally dark, as in does not give off light and is not easily detected from earth. This would include planets, interstellar dust, black holes, and much much more.

The other kind of dark matter is believed to be different. It is mass that does not interect with other mass except through gravitation. Originally, when this kind of dark matter was first found, astronomers thought that it could be explained by normal matter that simply can't be seen. With, more evidence, it became apparent that this wasn't the case.

Now, we have one term to express two very different ideas.


RE: Theories...
By fishbits on 8/22/2008 3:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem is that there are two kinds of 'dark matter'... Now, we have one term to express two very different ideas.
This wasn't stated in the post you're replying to?


RE: Theories...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/22/2008 6:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
> "Now, we have one term to express two very different ideas."

That's not a very accurate way to look at it. More precisely, we have what is called the "dark matter problem", which is the discrepancy in (among other things) gravitational effects on galaxies.

To explain that problem, a few different solutions have been proposed. One is (obviously) dark matter, more precisely known as WIMPs. -- weakly interacting massive particles. There are some other forms of dark matter, but the important point is they're all exotic -- they don't interact the way normal matter does.

As a more mundane solution to the problem, some cosmologists proposed what they called MACHOs (a play on "wimp" -- get it?). But even though MACHOs are a (proposed) solution to the dark matter problem, they aren't dark matter -- they're normal matter which just isn't illuminated.

So the "Macho" solution doesn't hypothesis dark matter, it's a solution to the problem that involves just plain old ordinary matter. There's nothing exotic at all about a MACHO. . . if the Earth was floating in space without the benefit of the sun to light it up, it would be an (albeit very small and insignificant) MACHO as well.

The problem is that the Macho solution doesn't appear to be a very good one, which leaves Dark Matter and a few other possibilities (such as MoND) to solve the problem.


RE: Theories...
By drwho9437 on 8/24/2008 12:47:31 AM , Rating: 2
My opinion is just that General Relativity is flawed. I feel like we are back in the 20s trying to do everything within the framework with more exotic explanations.


RE: Theories...
By icanhascpu on 8/22/2008 7:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
"the unscrupulous have run wild with the notions."

Exactly, and thus the scientific method is perfectly intact. This is the same sort of thing i laugh at when people tell me they 'experiment' with drugs. "Sorry Charly but scientests 'experiment', youre just a dumbass" xD


RE: Theories...
By Oregonian2 on 8/22/2008 1:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
2. Aren't most physicists generally skeptical about string theory?


From what I've read they're a lot less so than previously and that it has been "gaining ground" for some time now.

There are those who think all there is to be known is known and that the fabric and goings on of the entire universe is known and understood. I think they're nuts. But that's okay, they probably think that of me too -- and for all I know both thoughts are correct.


RE: Theories...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/22/2008 2:34:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think perhaps the best representation is that string theory has gained ground for decades, but now seems to be being reconsidered. Book's like Smolin's "The Trouble With Physics" have recently questioned the very foundation of string theory.


RE: Theories...
By Spuke on 8/22/2008 3:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Trouble With Physics
Does one need a heavy physics background to read that book?


RE: Theories...
By homebredcorgi on 8/22/2008 5:14:06 PM , Rating: 2
Not entirely, though it would certainly help. The author tries to dumb it down and give enough background so a laymen can understand. I'd say if you could understand the gist of this article, you could easily handle the book. It's a very interesting read. I recommend it to anyone interested in physics or science.

The author's major gripe (and it's a big one) is that by the current definition(s) of string theory, it can't be disproved by experiment. Period.

This is the root of the scientific method being thrown out the window and I can't help but wonder if the physics community has wasted years on it.

When a theory is shown to be false by experiment, you scratch your head, admit you're wrong and move on with something new. We like to call this progress and we like to believe it actually happens in the real world. Unfortunately, string theory allows us to devise an experiment to prove the theory, but when nothing is found, equations can be changed and we can show that the experiment never should have found anything in the first place. See the problem here?

Complex and abstract mathematics is a nice skill, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't connect it to the real world. String Theorists have utterly failed to devise some experiment, ANY real-world experiment to prove themselves WRONG. Sadly there are major political factors involved and you are basically kissing your career in physics goodbye if you badmouth string theory.


RE: Theories...
By Oregonian2 on 8/22/2008 8:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sadly there are major political factors involved and you are basically kissing your career in physics goodbye if you badmouth string theory.


I understand that it wasn't that long ago when one's career would have gone bye-bye if you said anything good about string theory. I recall articles about the nut-cases who came up with it.

Somehow I'm not upset with the theory not being disproved. Seems like a good thing, although not as good as proving it to be true.


RE: Theories...
By michael67 on 8/22/2008 3:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
Actually most theorist are going over to a new form of the theory, that includes a extra dimension.
Saw some months ago a BBC docu about it, pretty cool stuff.

Some prof. was doing this research for years and all mainstream string theorist ware saying he was wrong.
And now he is king of the string hill :-)


RE: Theories...
By Samus on 8/23/2008 5:42:48 AM , Rating: 1
1) It is pretty obvious dark matter exists. Explain black holes, of in other words, the disappearance of entire stars as they collapse onto their entire solar systems.

2) String theory doesn't have to be proven. We have working examples of it here on earth. What you subtract from the front and add to the rear of a moving object increases its propulsion.

I am drunk.


RE: Theories...
By kayronjm on 8/24/2008 3:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
1. There are several good candidates for dark matter, namely paticles which are theorised to have existed in the past or exist to propagate certain forces (such as a theory of quantum gravity). On a personal account, I'm not too sure about the true nature of dark matter being as 'physical' as one might think of it. Obviously there's something wrong with our calculations despite our accurate description of spacetime using General Relativity, given certain evidence such as the galaxy rotational curves (where stars very far out in a galaxy seem to be rotating around the galaxy at the same velocity as stars further in - should be less velocity given the larger radius of curvature, suggesting there's more matter outside to compensate for the increase in radius). Despite that I think it's more down to geometry than physical matter, but again no one can be sure. At the end of the day, there have been recent pictures showing 'dark matter halos' and such, but again, it doesn't really say it's physical matter as we think of it.

2. You could say that, but String Theory is very popular these days for how 'complete' it seems to be and how radical it is. I guess I could say a lot of us are more HOPEFUL than SKEPTICAL, haha.

That's true about theories, but without these theories we'd have no 'aim' of where we're headed. Besides, a lot of things start out as theories. Personally I'm all for them, (given that I'm a theoretical physicist) especially 'wild' theories since they open up the mind and the possibilities.


RE: Theories...
By Spectator on 8/28/2008 6:24:43 AM , Rating: 2
I have a theory for you.

I concluded that Dark Space is the food source that sustains everything we know of. That being said mass/gravity is relative to the objects energy requirement to exist.

So if we imagine Darkspace as a fluid. If you "could" create a bubble around an object that only allows DS to flow into it from a specific point.

You could move the object. Depending on how DS works.

Personally i think it seems more logical as an object consumes specific parts of the DS; this leaves an imbalance in the food source that other objects are attracted to that require that type to exist.

And dark matter is just a collection of broken darkspace; "left overs" by an object that does not need those parts to exist.

But hey; time will tell i guess :P


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