Aussie Scientists Reckon NASA's Warp Drive Could Blast Your Destination Into Oblivion

Admit it. You got a little excited when you heard that it might be possible to construct a working "warp" drive, capable of moving an object faster than the speed of light. Sadly, it's since been shown that such a trip could kill you and now, Aussie researchers believe it would be deadly for everyone at your destination too.

Brendan McMonigal, Geraint F. Lewis and Philip O'Byrne of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy published a paper early this year suggesting if one were to travel on a space-faring vessel utilising the so-called Alcubierre drive "[anyone] at the destination would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion", courtesy of the mentioned particles being collected in the ship's wake. An article on the paper by ExtremeTech points out that, due to their being no upper limit on the number of particles that could be collected, the destructive energy would simply increase the faster and longer the ship travelled for.

And that's not all — those on-board would need sufficient shielding to protect them from "potentially dangerous" blue-shifted particles. Simply put, the warp drive is sounding more like a weapon (a suicidal one at that) than a mode of transportation.

The way I look at it is that any sort of faster-than-light travel, or even near-FTL, will require technologies developed in concert. It's not like NASA just strapped a capsule to the top of a rocket and shot it into space. Well, OK, it kind of did, but the most recent NASA shuttles feature many different support systems that took years of continuous testing and research to get right. The warp drive, if it ever eventuates, will be no different.

[arXiv, via ExtremeTech]

Image: Star Trek Online

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    I agree with your conclusion. We could send people Mars today if we wanted, or even Pulto, but we don't because it's not safe.

      That's what made the good ol' days the good ol' days. When Neil, Buzz and co went to the moon that expected to crash and die when they got there. There's just not that kind of commitment in todays astronauts lol

        Actually, they were expected to land, plant a flag, grab some samples and return home safely. And they did just that. While there are significant risks, these risks are mitigated by brilliant engineering designs and solutions, and if they weren't sure they could came back safely, they wouldn't have went.

        What? No they didn't, it was a return mission.

        Last edited 18/11/12 4:35 pm

          That there was no plan to return home and that Neil and Buzz still worked out how to return back to earth without the adequate technology is truly a marvel of their strong will for survival combined with their ingenuity.

          There was every chance that it wouldn't work.

            What are you people on about? There were huge risks involved on all Apollo missions but they were planned from the start as successful return journeys, and thats how it ended up panning out. Nixo's backup speech was just that, a back up, and I'm assuming Sam B's comment is a joke and I've missed the sarcasm. And ozoneocean, we don't send people to Mars because we don't have the money, or to pluto because we don't have the technology.

              Nixon wrote the success speech only after they realised that Neil and Buzz had worked out a way to return to earth while on the moon.

                samb, I think you don't know all that much about space travel, orbital mechanics, physics, etc.

                Because of the truckload of force required to get a rocket moving, they would only put enough fuel on the ship to get them to their destination (more fuel = more mass, requiring more fuel)

                So by your logic NASA f*cked up royally by giving them a dedicated launcher to get off the moon, enough fuel to get off the moon, meet up with the orbiter, and get back to Earth.

                Oh, by the way, reasons for why Nixon may have thought they wouldn't make it back? Aldrin broke a circuit that was meant to kick off the rocket. That crazy Aldrin!

                  The original plan was to stay on the moon and to use the parts from the ship to build a small cabin. It was only when they got there that they realised there wasn't enough air and water or food to forage to live in space - thats how we know today we need to be slower migrating to mars.

      You guys are all missing the point. This Scientist is a genius. Mention the word "WEAPON" and the R&D dollars will come flowing in.

    What if they were to warp into or near an uninhabited/undesirable planet/area that's somewhat close to the destination, for the long distance section of the journey?
    Eg. People want to come to Earth from some place light years away, they jump to or near Venus instead and either cruise to earth or maybe do a small jump if they're in a hurry.

      What a great idea. Let's issue invitations now.

    Atleast we now know of a weapon for if we go to war with an intergalatic race we just bomb there planet with warp drive ships.

    The aussie scientists didn't discover this (the destruction of destination), I read this years ago on Wikipedia about the Alcubierre drive. (Or the aussie scientists did, and gizmodo is only writing the article now).

    Yonz, regardless of the dangers, even your thoughts of short "jumps", are not even worth entertaining. No one has "any" idea how to actually create a practical Alcubierre drive, it's only theory, much the same as a wormhole (which would seem safer), which would require some sort of "exotic" matter to achieve. Not to mention the insurmountable energy likely required for either (I recall the energy being in the order of converting all the mass of a large black hole into energy!)

    I think the 'America' and 'weapon' often appear together in the same article?

    That's why we need to bend space instead like the Event Horizon.

      And look how well that turned out! ;)

    Wouldn't be the first time NASA has needed a little help. There wouldn't be a NASA if it weren't for a notorious German with questionable ties to nazi Germany by the name of Wernher von Braun.

    I say we build it, send it Mars (or near Mars) and test the warp drive out! Come on there has to be a way to test this without killing humans.
    I want to go to space before I die, but it seems like we have such a long way to go :(.

    We had men with red flags walking in front of horseless-carriages, ... we had planes getting a wobble-up at the sound barrier, ... we need a wedge to part the matter in front of a spaceship like the way electomagnetics keep the planets aligned ... an anti-black hole if you like ... you technobuffs need the equation - 'E= 1 more coffee'.

    Someone once said that the human body would not survive a journey on a steam train,someone once said that it was impossible for the Germans to rain rockets on England,someone once said that travel beyond the speed of sound was impossible and people once thought the world was flat and the computer I'm using to write this couldn't be built just 30 years ago...the impossibilities of the future have a habit of becoming old news before we know it but keeping a closed mind on what is possible only relegates you as a two dimensional thinking flat earther.Warp 5 please number one.

      Could not agree more - I believe that with the rights minds and some time, pretty much every series on the SyFi channel can be reality.

      As you said, this laptop I'm typing on now was 'impossible' half a life time ago... Open minds people... Open minds...

    This proves again that Australians have always been and always will be the safest and fastest in the space age.


    I just hope that the mob in Alpha Centauri, who are far less safety conscious than us, aren't just about to use their first attempt at this warp drive to send an experimental mission to earth.

    Who in the hell came up with this nonsense?

      Indeed. This is so much BS it's laughable. But hey they got a paper and at Uni it's publish or perish. Well these days it's publish and still perish, but every paper helps.

    Would it not be possible to do the trip in shorter hops to reduce this buildup?

    Purely an assumption.

    didn't he snap the switch? i remember an interview he did and he used a pen to push the button to activate the ascent engines

    Humans are not meant for space travel. the space-faring future of the human race belongs to post-humans and protosentient robots.

      i agree with villainsoft

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