Monday, 17 September 2012

Faster then light, from small experiments

The experiment created a form of neutrinos, muon neutrinos, at CERN's older SPS accelerator, on the Franco–Swiss border, and detected them at the LNGS lab in Gran Sasso, Italy. OPERA researchers used common-view GPS, derived from standard GPS, to measure the times and place coordinates at which the neutrinos were created and detected.
As computed, the neutrinos' average time of flight turned out to be less than what light would need to travel the same distance in a vacuum. In a two-week span up to November 6, the OPERA team repeated the measurement with a different way of generating neutrinos, which helped measure travel time of each detected neutrino separately. Five different teams of physicists have now independently verified that elusive subatomic particles called neutrinos do not travel faster than light. New results, announced today in Japan, contradict those announced last September by a 170-member crew working with the OPERA particle detector in Italy's subterranean Gran Sasso National Laboratory. The OPERA team made headlines after they suggested neutrinos traveled 0.002% faster than light, thus violating Einstein's theory of special relativity. The OPERA results were debunked,Prof Antonio Ereditato oversaw results, has resigned from his post. Earlier in March, a repeat experiment found that the particles, known as neutrinos, did not exceed light speed.
Paradoxically, a concept for a real-life warp drive would be able to go faster then light was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre.
Alcubierre proposed a way of changing the geometry of space by creating a wave which would cause the fabric of space ahead of a spacecraft to contract and the space behind it to expand. The ship would then ride this wave inside a region of flat space known as a warp bubble, and would not move within this bubble, but instead be carried along as the region itself moves as a consequence of the actions of the drive.

An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind.
The only problem is, previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter. But recently Dr Harold White of NASA's Johnson Space Center, calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.

For now, the researchers at Johnson Space Center are trying to create tiny warps in space-time. It would at least prove White’s theory that shape can make all the difference. Physicists have found loopholes in some mathematical equations—loopholes that indicate that warping the space-time fabric is indeed possible. Dr. White's team is trying to find proof of those loopholes. They have "initiated an interferometer test bed that will try to generate and detect a microscopic instance of a little warp bubble" using an instrument called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer.
Although this is just a tiny instance of the phenomena, it will be existence proof for the idea of perturbing space time—a “Chicago pile” moment, as it were. Recall that December of 1942 saw the first demonstration of a controlled nuclear reaction that generated a whopping half watt. This existence proof was followed by the activation of a ~ four megawatt reactor in November of 1943. Existence proof for the practical application of a scientific idea can be a tipping point for technology development.

A Michelson-Morley interferometer may be a useful tool for the detection of such a phenomenon. The photo above depicts a warp field interferometer experiment that uses a 633nm He-Ne laser to evaluate the effects of York Time perturbations within a small (~1cm) spherical region. Across 1cm, the experimental rig should be able to measure space perturbations down to ~1 part in 10,000,000. The energy density character over a number of shell thicknesses suggests that a toroidal donut of boost can establish a warp spherical region. Based on the expected sensitivity of the rig, a 1cm diameter toroidal test article (something as simple as a very highvoltage capacitor ring) with a boost on the order of 1.0000001 is necessary to generate an effect that can be effectively detected by the apparatus. The intensity and spatial distribution of the phenomenon can be quantified using 2D analytic signal techniques comparing the detected interferometer fringe plot with the test device off with the detected plot with the device energized.Figure 5 also has a numerical example of what the before and after fringe plots may look like with the presence of a spherical disturbance of the strength just discussed.

Using an interferometer to warp space seems like a plausible experiment, however the warping of space is much more intangible then Nasa might think. The use of a high magnetic fields for a small change in the light array, seems ridiculous and probably not worth pursing. Star-trek fans might have a romantic notion that antimatter and crystals might have a potential to change the fabric of the universe, while some people theorize that dark energy has a better chance for warping space. It is more likely that a abundant source of exotic matter can possibly have a effect with the environment, although such materials can not be manufactured by any process other then particle accelerator (but not in large quantities). Despite my views on warp technology being a unattainable goal, I still think there is a lot of current technologies to help boost speeds in space travel. Plasma drives powered by a nuclear reactor and teleportation of data streams for communications. I assume the laws of physics can not be broken just yet with our current technology and realistically think its best to fully develop the ones that are reachable...


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