Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fictional Science

"What is warp drive?"

It started with a question. A rather simple question, on another Long Drive. This one was with me as the co-pilot and five rather hyper children in the back. And a box of pizza.

There are three methods of traveling faster than light. Well, only two involve traveling faster than light, the third is sort of the illusion of light-speed travel, because the pen is faster than the space ship. They all involve a certain amount of hand waving. Hand waving is the process of talking really fast and waving your hands around so that no one notices that what you said is, in the words of my dad, completely bogus. None of them are exactly what I'd call scientific.

This is why I said to my mom, fifteen minutes later, that maybe I shouldn't be giving my siblings science lessons. Actually, one should never let a science fiction writer teach anything scientific...

A magical place outside of the known universe where the laws of physics don't apply. Thus, to travel thousands of light years one simply hops or jumps into hyperspace, flies over to the nearest star, and hops or jumps back into the real world. 

Warp Drive
Wave your hands really fast and your ship will go faster. Never mind all the physical implausibilities of traveling faster than light, just do it. Equip your ship with special engines; alien technology always works. And call it something that sounds like was it is... warped. 

Snail Speed
Suspended animation is the most plausible method of traveling from star to star, but it's not the most plausible method of immortality. So it depends on which science fiction technique you're evaluating to know exactly how plausible it is. Also known as cryogenic sleep it involved sleeping for thousands of years while traveling just below light speed, thus remaining within the known laws of physics. Generation space ships also fall into this category. 


  1. * chuckles a bit * Yeah, most science fiction really is fiction.

    But as far as warp drive and hyperspace go... they actually are theoretically possible... and do exist in mathematics. They aren't merely imaginary.

    Hyperspace is where you travel through another dimension (the tesseract is best, which is real), generally by means of a wormhole (that is, a black hole and white hole pair), which is also real.

    Warp drive is where you warp space-time (or the tesseract) in order to make your regular thrusters actually travel along a wave, so the universe moves beneath you rather than against you. Also viable and based on reality.

    Both, however, are beyond our current capabilities, mainly due to the exorbitant amounts of energy it would take to execute them. So the problem isn't really the theory, it is the execution.

  2. *laughs*

    Come now, Warp is more scientific than all that. :D You ought to study it.