Saturday, December 1, 2012

How far can you go in 2 weeks?

In 1873 Jules Verne proposed that it was possible to go Around the World in 80 Days (original French title: Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours).

While in 1924 by a team of aviators of the United States Army Air Service, the precursor of the United States Air Force flew around the world in 175 days, covering over 44,000 kilometers (27,340 mi). Not quite Verne's 80 days, but respectable not the less. Since then the duration has been reduced

Back in July 1969 the Apollo 11 crew flew from Florida, USA to the Northern Pacific Ocean with a stop over on the moon in 8 days, 3 hours, and 18 min.:

Launch date       July 16, 1969, 13:32:00 UTC 
Lunar landing    July 20, 1969, 20:17:40 UTC at Sea of Tranquility 
First step:          July 21, 02:56 UTC 
Landing             July 24, 1969, 16:50:35 UTC. North Pacific Ocean
Currently the International Space Station has an Orbital period of  92 minutes 50 seconds.

Looking a bit further afield, after 8 months, 10 days, 2 hours, and 15 min. the the Mars Curiosity rover landed on Mars.
Now where could you go in 2 weeks?

Based on a new concept being tested by NASA you might be able get to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away. This is explained in an interview posted on IO9 titled How NASA might build its very first warp drive
in which George Dvorsky interviews NASA physicist Dr. Harold White using a loophole in Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity by warping the space (squeezing) in front of and (widening) behind the ship as shown in this image:


Dr. White's concept is based on an improvement to the design proposed by Dr. Miguel Alcubierre in 1994 in his paper The warp drive: hyper-fast travel within general relativity. The principle was sound, but it was determined to need too much energy to be practical. By modifying the shape of the field generator Dr. White thinks he has got the design to the point where it could be possible. 

It seems that this design was used for the Vulcan command ship
As posted on IO9: The above image of a Vulcan command ship features a warp engine similar to an Alcubierre Drive. Image courtesy CBS.
 So now to the lab to prove the concept.

I recommend reading the interview as it explains the concept, and the original problems quite well.

Additional reading:

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