Practical Wormholes?

June 3rd, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

wormhole_180Wow, this is exciting stuff. It appears that two physicist have devised a way to create a stable, traversible wormhole without extraordinary energy requirements. In fact it appears, that if it’s done right, a wormhole could be stabilized with barely any energy at all:

From Sci-Fi Today:

New Zealand and Indian physicists have published a remarkable and significant new finding about wormholes in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters. A staple of many science-fiction works, wormholes connect two distant spots in the space-time continuum and allow a “shortcut” path for travel between them compared to the path required through normal space and time. The two ends of a wormhole may be at different points in time as well as space, so wormholes could serve as a practical method of time travel as well as space travel. That is, if you could in fact open one…

Maybe you can. Wormholes are grounded in real physics and are considered theoretically, if not practically, possible. But previous recipes for creating a wormhole required various configurations of black holes; not only does nobody know how to make these, they would require an enormous amount of material (think the masses of stars and galaxies) to produce regardless – not something we are likely to have at our command anytime soon. Six years ago, Matt Visser (one of the authors of the current paper) and his colleague David Hochberg showed that in order to stay open, wormholes could also be formed with a substance dubbed “exotic matter” as well as black holes. Even though exotic matter is right up there with unicorns as far as being actually sighted, Visser’s work DID show a way to create a wormhole without a black hole. This was progress.

Now Vissar and his collegues have published new calculations that show a wormhole can be opened with an arbitrarily small amount of exotic matter. If the wormhole is designed carefully, “the total quantity of ANEC-violating matter can be made infinitesimally small.” So even if we currently don’t have a clue as to how to make or obtain exotic matter, we may only need the merest speck to make warp dreams come true…

Related Posts:

Traversible Wormholes: Some Implications


Replacing the Space Shuttle with Cheaper Alternatives

February 4th, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Replacing the Space Shuttle with Cheaper Alternatives)

Just read this article in time, The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped.

That core problem is the space shuttle itself. For 20 years, the American space program has been wedded to a space-shuttle system that is too expensive, too risky, too big for most of the ways it is used, with budgets that suck up funds that could be invested in a modern system that would make space flight cheaper and safer. The space shuttle is impressive in technical terms, but in financial terms and safety terms no project has done more harm to space exploration.Capitalism, of course, is supposed to weed out such inefficiencies. But in the American system, the shuttle’s expense made the program politically attractive. Originally projected to cost $5 million per flight in today’s dollars, each shuttle launch instead runs to around $500 million. Aerospace contractors love this fact that the shuttle launches cost so much.

There are have been lots of cheaper and safer atlernatives each of which has been cancelled by NASA or government contractors. The problem goes back to laws put in place during the Nixon Administration that capped contractor profits to less than 10%. Therefore, logically, contractors want space access to be as expensive as possible, so their profit margins are greater. This may explain $10,000 screws, and $30,000 hammers. Since the space program is based on government subsidies, free-market principels do not apply, otherwise we’d have costs less than $100/lb orbit by now. With costs below $100/lb, the price of going into space for an the average individual would be the same price as an extended European Vacation.

Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time before private enterprise takes up the challenge, especially with the X-Prize competition now in full-swing. Mass-produced nano-materials are just around the corner, which means amazing applications like space elevators and spaceships the size of RV’s and that weigh only 200 pounds. Either one of these would reduce the cost to orbit to less than $10/lb. Thats only $2000 for a trip into space!