SciFi Ideas Podcast Episode#6

In this episode of the SciFi Ideas podcast we discuss various methods of sub-light and faster-than-light propulsion, including the Alcubierre drive, wormholes, nuclear pulse propulsion. We also ask how many habitable planets can be squeezed into a single star system.

Show Notes

SciFi Max Magazine:

Starting Point – Hiding in Full View:

The Alcubierre Drive:

The Ultimate Solar System:

dn25653-1_1200 dn25653-2_1200 The SciFi Ideas podcast is also available on YouTube and iTunes.

  • Kirov

    I don’t have Twitter, so I’ll leave a comment to say I enjoy the show, and I’m operating heavy machinery while listening. Sort of. Actually, I’m playing World of Tanks.

    And about the ultimate solar system. I remember reading somewhere that the “habitable zone” of a red dwarf is so close to the star that solar winds actually make the zone uninhabitable. I’ll have to do some research on it.

    And let’s hope they get working on that Alcubierre Drive.

    • Hi Kirov, thanks for commenting.
      I usually unwind after the show by playing Space Engineers. Does that also count as heavy machinary? I guess not because it’s in a weightless environment 🙂

      Yeh, I read after the show (a bit late for fact checking) that because red star habitable zones are so close to the star, planets would also likely be tidally locked. Such strong gravitational forces would probably make these binary planets impossible too.
      Ah well, let’s just ignore the red star and pretend it’s a nice yellow medium sun.

  • John H Reiher Jr

    There’s the Klemperer Rosette, that Larry Niven uses for the Puppeteer “Fleet of Worlds”. Each world is semi-stable, and the Puppeteers use massive engines to maintain the worlds in position.

    • Yeh, I thought about mentioning that, but I thought it was a bit to complicated for David to understand 😀

  • John H Reiher Jr

    The Warp Bubble in Star Trek was introduced by James Blish in his novelizations of the original series. It features prominently in “Spock Must Die!”

    One of the biggest problems with the Alcubierre Warp Drive is that it takes the power of the Sun to run it. One of problems, as you pointed out, is that space is not empty, so as bubble moves through space, it builds up a wave front of debris and energy, so that when it stops… Boom! A gamma ray burst shoots forth and vaporizes just about anything in front of it.

    Wormholes, while being called “holes in space” are more akin to holes in Swiss cheese: You never leave “normal” space-time, you just travel through a tube of it. The wormhole is as long as the throat of the worm home is wide. Here’s a great visualization of what it looks like to travel through a wormhole:

    • The power of the sun isn’t all that much in FTL terms 😀
      How much energy do you think it would take to create an artificial wormhole (and would that even be possible)?

      • John H Reiher Jr

        The problem is not how much energy, which I believe is quite large, it’s creating the negative mass/energy to wedge the wormhole open. So far, the only negative energy we’ve observed in the lab has been created by the Casimir Effect.

        According to the site I linked to, the amount of negative energy would be “…the absolute values of this energy density would have to be extremely high, up to a billion times the density of a neutron star…”

        And it has to have all the properties of Dark Matter, so one could traverse the wormhole. So, nothing we know about other than the theoretical “Dark Energy” that’s pushing the universe apart.

  • John H Reiher Jr

    Dune’s FTL drive depended on Psi powers. And the Navigators weren’t aliens, they were humans mutated by the Spice. They needed the spice to give them prescience so they can navigate around obstructions.