Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

STAR TREK, STAR WARS, WORMHOLES, ETC.

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Well, turns out wormholes might be possible after all! Woohoo! Last I heard the only way to make a wormhole requires negative energy/mass, about a Jupiter’s worth of it, which we currently can’t produce. And unless a corkscrew shaped superstring was popped right into it, the wormhole would close back up instantly. The chances that a corkscrew shaped superstring exists is also, well, unlikely. So no Deep Space Nine wormholes. Physicists aren’t going to give up on a great idea, and they came up with a new type of wormhole that doesn’t require the negative energy or the superstring! Alas, the wormhole is only traversable by atoms in a quantum state, which means we could send clumps of atoms through it, but not people.

OK, no wormholes yet, how about a warp drive, that staple of Star Trek? Yes, another breakthrough: A potential model for a real physical warp drive. Corkscrew shaped superstring? Nope. Could power a real spaceship made of normal matter? Yes. So what’s the catch? Requires the same damn planet sized amount of negative energy fitted into the spaceship. Dammit. No Federation of planets on the horizon yet.

Granted travel to nearby stars using off-the-shelf (or close to it) technology is feasible with flight times of 100 years or less. See Project Daedalus or Project Longshot. Those are both just planning concepts though, and would be mind numbingly expensive to attempt. In a more practical vein, Breakthrough Starshot was launched in 2016, and aims to send probes to nearby stars using solar sails powered by giant lasers. It would have flight times of 20 to 30 years, the pictures and data sent back would take four years to get back to Earth. So quite conceivably people alive today could live to see the first pictures sent back from probes to nearby stars. I’m gonna certainly do my best to live to see that. The 60s are the new 40s, right? A man can dream.

Speaking of travelling between stars, it’s possible that the origin of Oumuamua may have been figured out. In 2017 Oumuamua was the first interstellar visitor ever spotted zipping through the Solar System, and it was quite the mystery. Wasn’t a comet, wasn’t an asteroid, and it had a long skinny shape never before seen in any comet or asteroid. There was and is speculation that Oumuamua was an alien probe or such, but most scientists don’t find the arguments for that very convincing. Well, the mystery may have been solved: Interstellar object Oumuamua was part of a planet, not alien spaceship. The idea is that it was originally part of a planet like Pluto or Triton (a moon of Neptune,) then blasted into interstellar space by some cosmic cataclysm. And originally it was much larger, mostly made of nitrogen ice.  As Oumuamua approached the Sun the ice boiled off, leaving a progressively more flattened core the way a bar of soap turns into a flat sliver as it wears away.

Closer to Earth, the problem of Mars’s missing oceans has been solved. Mars once had a lot of surface water. Oceans’ worth actually. So what happened to it? Well, Mars doesn’t have much of a magnetic field, so while it early on had an atmosphere and oceans, the solar wind stripped it away, including the water. And we are left with the dry desert Mars we so love today. Well, it was never really established just what happened to all that water, and a new study says much or most of it may well still be on Mars, trapped in minerals in its crust. Granted mostly an academic issue, but good to know. And might have implications for ultimately terraforming Mars I suppose.

My original life plan was to become a Mars geology expert and shoot for getting on one of the first Mars missions. I was a silly young man. I also joined the service thinking I would be serving my country. That was even sillier. Now that I am older and wiser I know the answer! Star Trek! Yes, referring to the meme above, I know, that may have been the most tortured segue in history. I am always trying to expand my writing boundaries. As for the meme, it’s kind of apples and oranges. Star Wars is space opera, Star Trek is science fiction. So one can enjoy them both without having to choose.

That would be the cowards way out though, Star Trek rules! Tomorrow if all goes well, my Stonehenge mystery post. Stay safe and warm everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found on Facebook. Credit: Looks like Imgflip.com? Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

March 16, 2021 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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