Stark Trek's Warp Drive Would Destroy Everything

March 6, 2012


Because some scientists have have jobs where they can sit around and speculate about the effects a sci-fi series' spaceship would have on the universe (I'm jelly!), researchers at the University of Sydney have decided that Star Trek's warp drive would destroy the universe. Me? I'm convinced with a big enough laser anybody could destroy the universe.

...Space is not just an empty void between point A and point B... rather, it's full of particles that have mass (as well as some that do not.) What the research team -- led by Brendan McMonigal, Geraint Lewis, and Philip O'Byrne -- has found is that these particles can get "swept up" into the warp bubble [when traveling faster than light] and focused into regions before and behind the ship, as well as within the warp bubble itself.

When the Alcubierre-driven ship decelerates from superluminal speed, the particles its bubble has gathered are released in energetic outbursts. In the case of forward-facing particles the outburst can be very energetic -- enough to destroy anyone at the destination directly in front of the ship.

"Any people at the destination," the team's paper concludes, "would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion due to the extreme blueshifts for [forward] region particles."

Meh, who cares if you kill everyone at your destination? It's not like that wasn't the plan anyways. Kill everybody, deplete their natural resources, and move on. It's the circle of life the future. DUM DUM DUM!

Warp Drives May Come With a Killer Downside [universetoday]

Thanks to Mr. Spork and Mutty, who're convinced if they just renamed the warp drive something less intense maybe its effects wouldn't be so extreme. Now THAT -- that's what I call thinking with science.

  • CynicalChristian

    Hrm, I wouldn't take the conjecture too seriously.  Scientist conjecturing about the Atom Bomb thought the thing was going to ignite the atmosphere.

  • I love the "blasted into oblivion" part.

  • A bigger question I have is, what force is causing these particles to explode outwards once the ship has decelerated? From the description, it appears that whatever has been gathered up whilst the ship travels within its bubble continues at matched speed with the craft. Also, that it sounds like a form of static cling that causes the bubble to attract said particles so that if your vessel were to slow from a faster than light velocity where the particles move at that speed, then it would stand to reason that as the ship decelerated and the bubble decays that the particles gathered would slow with the ship and would be dispersed without force once the warp bubble is gone.

    Or that as the ship slowed, the bubble would lose form and the collectors would be able to extend their reach past the bubble thereby collecting the extraneous particles into the nacelles and then allowed to be dispersed back into space.

    A functional warp drive is hypothetically plausible but currently a mission impossible though according to the fictional chronology of the show, the first use of warp drive doesn't occur for another fifty years and there is bound to be advancements in technology between now and then that would overcome the obstacles we see now. 

  • artilleryboy

    Well it doesnt exist so i dont see why they would waste their time doing this. Was this a hobby or are they actually getting paid to research this.

  • DasFXI

    Space is not just an empty void. But in Star Trek, a ship at warp doesn't travel through space; it travels through subspace, which doesn't conform to the same rules of physics. The "warp bubble" in Trek tech isn't a bubble of negative energy; it's a bubble of normal space that surrounds the ship as it travels through subspace. This is how all those subspace related problems and issues would show up that were related to some warp core/warp field problem. So the ship isn't sweeping up particles as it travels through space, because it's not traveling through space. Not to say this doesn't apply to the warp drive they're describing, but that warp drive seems different than Trek's.

  • Fishlaw

    I think you are the only one who got it right.  And why did these scientists from Aussieland do this?  Probably no room left on the global warming bandwagon and, you know, if you don't spend that grant money somehow, it does not get renewed.

  • It's science fiction!
    It doesn't matter if it would really work.


    so what would happen at ludacris speed ??

  • raje32

    that's what the deflector dish is for. the Nacelles put the ship in a "bubble" and they slide through space like a fish in water... xD

  • Haha, that'd be like hitting the brakes and all the bugs in your grill shot off like bullets. But yea, Deflector shields, 300 years of advancements, etc...

  • grimbldoo

    Yeah, if you disregard the ginormous difference in momentum. 

  • Oh yeah scientists?  Prove it.

    No really.  Instead of some of the most brilliant minds on our planet saying that something just won't work, why don't they instead actually try to make something that would?  They're just a bunch of useless mouthbreathers otherwise.

  • They did prove it. That's kind of the point. And the reason they do this is so that effort is either not wasted on things that cannot work, or properly focused on specific issues with things that can. Fact that we can actually discuss warp drive and put some numbers to it in itself is beyond anything that could be expected. And people like you, who object to something without having any idea what they are talking about, are not making it any easier to keep pushing forward.

  •  No they didn't prove anything.  They just displayed their complete lack of understanding about how a warp drive would work.  So maybe they did prove that their overpaid mouthbreathers afterall.

  • A

    Some people think too hard.

  • n_a_a_s

    Spaceball 1 did ludicrous speed & didn't kill the universe with any warp bubbles you idiot aussie scientists!!  They did leave some plaid when they passed that winnebago though, I can see that causing some fashion problems down the road

  • Is everyone forgetting about the Deflector shield already addressing this issue?

  • This was the first thing to come to mind, that and the Bussard Collectors too.

    *edit - Even without the Deflector dish & Bussard Collectors I think they fail to remember the ship actually decellerates from warp speeds, it's not an instant effect that they drop the warp field and are suddenly at sublight velocities, as such the particles would also be decellerated. At most you'd have a cloud of particles in front and in back of the ship.

    We sure these guys are scientists and not just students?

  • grimbldoo

    There is this thing called inertia. The particles will retain their velocity even if the ship decelerates slowly because they are not attached or part of the ship.

  • rikster81

    PFFTT!!! thats why when i do spave travel i go battlestar on that beeotch!! START THE FTL CLOCK TO JUMP NEAR URANUS!!

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