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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Warp Drive or Warped Experimental Results?

Dr. Martin Tajmar
About fifteen or twenty years ago I had a buddy named Frank.  Frank was my landlord and he had a problem with inertial rotation.

We would often talk about physics; Einstein's ideas in particular.  A favorite topic was the notion that Einstein had said that standing on the surface of planet was, from the perspective of gravity, the same as riding in an elevator rising at a constant speed.

So what is it that "sticks" you to the surface of the planet in the first place?

Gravity, of course.  But little is really known about the details of the physics behind the operation gravity and, to this point, no one has figured out how to manipulate gravity.

At the same time, most of us have experienced riding in a high-speed elevator.  You get in at floor one or two and ride up to floor sixty.  Usually these elevators, at least the new ones, are pretty fast so as they accelerate from a stop you feel "squashed down" as if you weigh more; which from the perspective of you mass in the elevator is true while the elevator accelerates.

So Einstein basically said that from your perspective standing on the earth or riding in an infinite elevator at a constant 1g (gravity) treats you the same - you feel the effect of one gravity.

But we also talked about rotation.

Most people have seen images of space stations where there is a central core with spokes out to the rim and the "living quarters" along the outside rim.  (This is also the case with the old Larry Niven "Ringworld.").  The idea here is that the rotation of the space station creates a force that wants to launch you off tangentially.  But since the rim is smooth and continuous the effect on you is that you "stick" to the floor - just as with the case of the elevator.

On these things Frank and I always agreed.

But Frank never liked the idea that the rotation itself relative to the gravity was given a "pass."  That is, something like the space station, or a bicycle wheel, should be creating some sort gravitational interaction (outside the basic tangential effect of centripieal force).

At the time Frank was never able to convince me that there was a problem - not that his arguments weren't persuasive - just that there was no physical evidence to back him up.

Today, however, things are somewhat different.

In 2007 an Austrian physicist named Martin Tajmar describe what is today known as the Tajmar effect:  The idea of placing an electronic gyroscope over a rotating supercold ring and noting that the gyroscope is affected by the the rotating supercold ring.   This effect was not duplicated until recently (2011).

(Note: So far there is not a lot to convince me that these are not "unreproducible results" I have written about before, e.g., cold fusion and all the rest on the medical side.  Sadly, to read much about this you have to pay for access to documents you tax dollars funded which I am not about to do until this blog can generate enough revenue to cover the cost.  Please click on ads if you'd like this to happen.

It often seems like someone discovers an "effect" and rather than reproduce it people begin to extrapolate what the effect might mean before reproducing it.)

But, as far as Frank and his problems with inertial rotation it would seem that were the Tajmar effect real the supercold rotation ring would have to be somehow "dragging" space-time, i.e., the fabric of space, around to some degree with its rotation in order to affect the nearby laser gyroscope.

So, the extrapolation goes, if the rotating ring is dragging space-time around with it (imagine this kind of like an electronic mixer - as the mixer spins around the bowl containing the cake mix, if on a set of loose bearings, will begin to rotation along with the contents of the bowl) then we can talk about warping space-time.

In the case of the mixer/cake mix the rotational energy of the blades is transferred via the cake mix to the bowl.  For the rotating supercold ring the cakemix is replaced by Unruh radiation, at least according to the theory described here.

So if we imagine beings living on the blades of the mixer (like us living on the surface of a rotating earth) we would not perceive any motion.  And being living on the bowl would also not perceive rotation.

But relative to each other (and instead living on the supercold rotating ring or "inside" the gyroscope we would perceive a twisting or spinning of space-time.

Now note that we are not somehow transferring rotational force  but actually rotating space-time.  So each relative observer would not notice that they are being rotated but in effect would be to an outside observer.

Which brings us to warp drives.

The Tajmar effect claims to effectively be warping space near the rotation of the supercold ring.

So, while the speed of light is constant within space-time theoretically we could move space-time (as in the case around the ring) so that the light moving within that space-time plus the movement of the space time would result in an observable movement showing the light moving from point A to point B faster that the speed of light in an non-moving space-time frame.

Which all leads to article like this and this.

Is it possible this is all true?

I suppose that depends on the reproducibility of the Tajmar effect which seems suspect to me (though there are claims it has been reproduce (Droscher & Hauser) there are others who are unable).

It seems that such an effect would have a dramatic impact on physics so one imagines that it would be important to determine if its real.  Something I would think well within the capabilities of many university-level physics labs.

At the same time its quite possible that Tajmar's effect is simply one of the 19 in 20 "failed to reproduce" experiments that happen all the time.

However, given such a flimsy set of proof, why are Fox News and other sites releasing information on possible "warp drives?"

One imagines this is because there is nothing else interesting to write about...

Richard Feynman once said that understanding the "two-slit" experiment was really all you needed to grasp what quantum mechanics was about.

It would seem this effect would be as profound were it true.

(Note: There are other things like the "Cashmir effect" which are also mysterious and offer such consequences are unlimited energy from "nothing.")

So who knows...

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