Archive for Star Trek

The Dream of Warp Drive and Interstellar Travel

Posted in Movies and Theatre, Science, Technology, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by urbannight

Warp Drive is a thing we thought was fantastical, a science fiction contrivance beyond the realm of possibility.  How would one even begin to warp space-time anyway?  Setting aside the ‘time’ aspect of it, would it be possible to warp space?  To warp sometime means it has to be physical and space is a whole lot of empty with bits of matter floating about it in. 

Turns out, back in 1994, a physicist by the name of Miguel Alcubierre actually came up with calculations that would do just that.  The problem was that it the required energy use to make it happens was so huge as to make it essentially impossible on the grounds that we couldn’t create the power to do it.

Not impossible.  Just improbable.   That alone should blow your mind.  That in 1994 the math alone showed it could be possible.  Wow.

18 years later and more advances in science and scientific thought bring us to a new place and people are taking a look at this again.  Because tweaking this idea is making it more possible. 

Originally, the ship would be shaped like a football with a large ring around it.  This ring would warp space-time around the ship while leaving the ship itself inside a bubble of non-warped space-time. 

The article doesn’t say, but because this is a ‘ring’ around the ship, I imaging it will be spinning and turning in some fashion to create this phenomenon. 

To reduce the energy usage, they altered the ring shape from a flat ring to a round donut.  I’m guessing that simply means the mathematical formula would not account for a round ring rather than a flat ring, as there is no actually item yet to be altered.

Alcubierre’s formula would require energy that was equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter.  The new formula could now be powered by a mass comparable in size to the Voyager 1 probe.  If the intensity of the space warps could be ‘oscillated over time’ it would further reduce the energy requirements. 

To get the idea of what oscillation might look like, find that 1940’s video of the Tacoma Bridge coming down.  I hope that is the right one.  It’s a video I’ve not seen for 6 or 7 years. 

I find the fact that they used Voyager 1 as a comparison to illustrate this very fitting.  I’m sure I am not the only one. 

((So V’Ger was actually 6 instead of 1, but the concept creates a feeling of ideas coming full circle.  Not related to anything in the article that I’m paraphrasing, back in the early 1990’s and pre-blogging days, I wrote an essay on the connections between V’Ger, the mechanical race, V’Ger’s Ilia-avatar (Ilia was a ‘Deltan’), and the Borg.   I should rewrite that.  The original article is probably where ever old computer discs went to die.))

To think that something that was so prohibitive that is was impractical to the point of impossibility has become possible and worth doing more studies on to see if it might actually work. 

The only flaw in the plan now is that the ring would likely have to be made out of ‘exotic’ matter.  Exotic matter tends to be hypothetical.  It is either known matter that is somehow altered to have properties that it didn’t have before or matter not of this planet and not identified as of yet.  It could also be known matter that is in a different state than we know about at this time but is within the realm of possibility using current physics or it could be matter that is known but so poorly understood that it might was well be from another planet.

Thrusting the entire concept right back into the realm of science fiction rather than science fact. It’s worth keeping half an eye on it, in case it pops into the realm of possibility again.  Maybe the next alteration could come in less than the 18 years it took for the last one.  But I’m not going to hold my breath.

 

Most of this was taken from this article.

Friday the 13th. NO! International Puzzle Day!!!!

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming, Life, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by urbannight

Can’t you see kids playing with this light up cube under the blankets after bedtime?

Friday is Friday the 13th. Spooky Stuff! Not really. I don’t intend to talk about it. Instead, I wanted to tell you that it is also International Puzzle Day.

I’ve mentioned the Bottom Line before. A one page sheet of reading material placed in sleeves on the inside of the stall doors of our company bathrooms. It talks all about the Rubik’s Cube.

So I thought I would do a little write up to share some of the more interesting aspects of it. I would give her credit for what she pulled together, but I have no idea who puts these together.

Apparently, the creator, one Erno Rubik of Hungary, created his hand made cube because he wanted a challenging, three-dimensional puzzle that also had aesthetic value.

This is where my brain snapped. Aesthetic? Really? Are you kidding me? It is an ugly little square with colored squares on it that don’t really look all that great together. It reminds me of the display lights on the computers in the Original Star Trek.

Hmmmm. This toy was created in 1974. There might be reasons this looks a bit like those computer panels. And when I think about some of the buildings built in the 1970’s, they were blocky, ugly, and the ‘decorative’ portions were usually divided up into rectangle and square color blocks.

Okay, maybe in 1974 there was something aesthetically pleasing about it. I didn’t see them until the 1980’s and I still fail to see anything pleasing in its form or function. Mostly, it made me mad enough to throw across the yard once or twice.

In fact, it wasn’t sold outside of Hungary until 1980. In the first year after that it sold 5 million toys. Between 1980 and 1982 it sold 100 million toys. In 1981 it was placed on exhibit at the New York Museum of Art. Once again, I think my brain broke over that factoid. Art? Really? Are you serious? That stupid, ugly, square with more colored squares on it?

In fact, it is protected from reproduction as a work of art. The original makers won lawsuit after lawsuit against makers of fake cubes. I think I had a fake cube. It was actually pretty with lovely soft pastels that actually harmonized and looked good together. I was so girly.

I even had a key chain with a tiny Rubik’s cube. Fully functional. (Now I have Voltaire’s Sexy Data Tango running through my head. To this day I cannot say or thing the words ‘fully functional’ without adding ‘and anatomically correct’)

I’ve never solved one. Not really. I once learned a method of patterned turns that will solve the cube so long as you already have two sides solved. Well, solving two sides was easy. I don’t think that really counts. I also could disassemble a cube that was hopelessly jumbled and reassemble it so it started from solved. Yes, I cheated when using a Rubik’s cube. It was that or keep throwing it across the yard.

The Future is Here

Posted in Entertainment, Technology with tags , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by urbannight

For those of you who have seen some of the news articles on Star Trek gadgets that are almost ready for market: Look at your smart phone and iPad and/or eReader of any flavor. Set them on the desk in front of you. Repeat after me: “The future is already here. The Future is already Here.”

The walkie talkie of tomorrow is the phone of today, right down to the gps tracker.

Now if only they could tackle that tricky matter transporter issue so I could beam to work instead of drive.