Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Steax » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:47 pm UTC

I really think they just decide to go out and do these experiments and say whatever they got, rather than trying to solve them mathematically; because doing it practically is a much more obvious result to viewers ('no, each truck got hit by X newtons' vs 'look, the crash at 80mph looks closer to the head-on than the 160!'). If they mess up on something, they can just say it's an experiment and they can just come back to it on the next episode.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:11 pm UTC

Steax wrote:This isn't a textbook question. They were introducing a brick wall into the system because that's what the host said, that's what people refuted, and hence that's what they tested. That [i]is[/url] an interesting thought though, never did that math myself.

I'm saying he was doubly wrong by comparing the two. Even if he had done the math properly, and said that two trucks driving into each other at 80 mph is equivalent to a truck driving into a brick wall at 113 mph, he's still incorrect, because a truck is not a brick wall, and it makes a difference which one you drive into.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby You, sir, name? » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:13 pm UTC

I like how CSI:NY has a holodeck. And all the computers have touch-screen interfaces. Still waiting for the warp engines and teleporters, though.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Mr_Rose » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:39 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:I like how CSI:NY has a holodeck. And all the computers have touch-screen interfaces. Still waiting for the warp engines and teleporters, though.

Damn but do I want to build an Astrometrics Lab, per Voyager. Gesture interfaces and zoomable everything pulling FITS data off every instrument we have automagically as and when it's published...
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby jmorgan3 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:47 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:In regard to the colliding trucks question, the question should really be whether driving two trucks at 80mph into each other the same as driving one truck 160mph into a stationary truck. Introducing a brick wall into one system is just confounding the situation.

160^2 = 25600 > 2*80^2 = 12800. There'd be twice as much energy to dissipate in the one-truck-at-160 system than the two-trucks-at-80 system.

But if one truck going 160 hits a stationary truck (and they collide inelastically), they will wind up going roughly 80. The kinetic energy after impact will be 2*80^2, so only 12800 (6400/truck) will go into plastic deformation (damage), the same amount as the two-trucks-at-80 system. In contrast, a 160MPH-truck-into-a-wall system will have almost all the initial kinetic energy go into plastic deformation on one truck, so that the full 25600 will go into damaging the one truck. This assumes that the wall is rigid and strong enough that it doesn't absorb and dissipate a significant amount of energy.

In summary:
one-truck-at-160 system: 6400/truck
two-trucks-at-80 system: 6400/truck
160MPH-truck-into-wall: 25600/truck
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:22 pm UTC

Dopefish wrote:Besides that, the airplane on a treadmill thing was/is actually debated actively. Something that is basicly 'do vectors add?' isn't something that most people would ever actually think about, and while peoples intuition might be off at first, I'd like to think it's simple enough that if people were presented with arguments and actually thought about it, it'd be obvious. Something like whether an airplanes wheels roll independently of the motion of the airplane on the whole strikes me as less obvious.


I think you're looking at this from too intelligent a perspective. I'd bet you a very large number of people out there don't even know what the mathematical definition of a vector is. The whole thing about moving reference frames and relative motion is not something many people in general have an intuitive grasp of.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:In regard to the colliding trucks question, the question should really be whether driving two trucks at 80mph into each other the same as driving one truck 160mph into a stationary truck. Introducing a brick wall into one system is just confounding the situation.

160^2 = 25600 > 2*80^2 = 12800. There'd be twice as much energy to dissipate in the one-truck-at-160 system than the two-trucks-at-80 system.

But if one truck going 160 hits a stationary truck (and they collide inelastically), they will wind up going roughly 80. The kinetic energy after impact will be 2*80^2, so only 12800 (6400/truck) will go into plastic deformation (damage), the same amount as the two-trucks-at-80 system. In contrast, a 160MPH-truck-into-a-wall system will have almost all the initial kinetic energy go into plastic deformation on one truck, so that the full 25600 will go into damaging the one truck. This assumes that the wall is rigid and strong enough that it doesn't absorb and dissipate a significant amount of energy.

In summary:
one-truck-at-160 system: 6400/truck
two-trucks-at-80 system: 6400/truck
160MPH-truck-into-wall: 25600/truck
I was assuming the stationary truck was restrained, just as one would assume the wall was restrained, but yeah - whether you let the truck roll freely would be another major difference between the two systems.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Dopefish » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:44 pm UTC

Chen wrote:I think you're looking at this from too intelligent a perspective. I'd bet you a very large number of people out there don't even know what the mathematical definition of a vector is. The whole thing about moving reference frames and relative motion is not something many people in general have an intuitive grasp of.


*shrug* Perhaps, although even in junior high I had some idea that "speed that way *points*+ speed that way *points in other direction*=0", even if at that point I thought a vector was some sort of fancy advanced thing I could never understand. Although I suppose I've always been a physics oriented sort of person, so eh.

I still don't think it's something that people would ever actual think about and actively debate, or otherwise consider a myth. Lots of people don't understand physics, but that doesn't mean they think physics is wrong/a myth.

I know next to no biology, but if a biologist says <insert strange but true fact here> to me, I'm apt to believe it, or if it's *really* counter intuitive I might ask for a proof/explanation, but I wouldn't be all "pssh, that's just a myth."

I might just have too much faith in the average persons intelligence/open-mindedness though. :|

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:00 pm UTC

It's not a matter of open-mindedness. After all, most people would believe a physicist if he told them about the fact. That's not really the point. The mythbusters don't test things that are "pshht, that's a myth." They usually test things that are more like "Uh, that seems unlikely but...maybe?", at least from my experience. Physics, even basic physics, is often counterintuitive when put into practice--you can teach someone vector addition but that doesn't mean they really grok it and how it actually relates to the real world, so when someone confronts them with a real world application, it seems unlikely. The Mythbusters aren't casting doubt on something by testing it, they're just testing ideas with experiment, which is an incredibly useful attitude to cultivate. I'd much rather live in a society where people demanded proof of their beliefs than one where they just believe what a scientist tells them.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Dopefish » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:27 pm UTC

I'm probably just clinging to the 'myth' part of them being mythbusters too much, rather than what they actually do, which as you say is more testing those "Uh, that seems unlikely but...maybe?" things. The first couple seasons were very much myths, but the more recent stuff is a little more free.

Testing things is great, and encouraging people to learn from experiance rather than a pile of formulas is also good. I'm probably biased since I do physics mainly, and the physics 'myths' I deal with are "electrons don't actually spin" and that sort of stuff, rather than something comparitively simple. So I kind've have a " Oh boy, you think that's counter intuitive? You should see <relativity/quantum/etc.>" outlook and find it hard to look at things from a laypersons viewpoint.


As a bit of an aside, I'm not sure a society where people demand proof of everything they believe would necessarily be better than one where they accept what scientists say. Sure at initial view, it sounds great, but in practice it'd likely quickly become impractical. The majority of people aren't sufficiently educated to necessarily understand a given proof, and so a bunch of things that scientists have spent X years gathering data on and effectively proving, and so for some potentially important beliefs that may be counter intuitive (i.e. smoking is linked to cancer), it can sometimes be best to just accept things. If you're actually interested in a field and researching whatever, then certainly, question everything, but it's somewhat impractical to demand proof of any given thing in general practice.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:58 pm UTC

I would like to note that the biggest source of confusion on the "airplane on a treadmill" problem is a misinterpretation of the problem (or vague statement of problem) rather than a misunderstanding of physics.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby phlip » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:24 am UTC

The problem with "the aeroplane on a treadmill puzzle" is that there are two of them, and it's never made clear which one anyone's talking about, 'cause they always just talk about "the" aeroplane on a treadmill puzzle. One of the two versions of the puzzle has all the hallmarks of a good logic puzzle... it has an obvious answer which is wrong, but if you think about it harder you see that your initial assumption was wrong, and see the right answer. This is the variant that the Mythbusters tested, and it's the variant where the plane takes off. The other variant isn't a logic puzzle but rather a semantics game, and boils down to basically "Due to unexplained circumstances, the plane is incapable of moving. Can the plane move?" to which the answer is "no".

It's like how a poor phrasing of the Monty Hall puzzle or the boy-girl paradox can end with the answer being 1/2, or undecidable, rather than the normal (though unintuitive) 2/3 answer... except that the poorly-phrased version is a well-established version of the puzzle, and not just a mistaken version of it.

Which is why people keep complaining about how the Mythbusters tested the puzzle - they only knew the bad version, and the Mythbusters tested the good version, so they claim they tested it wrong.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Steax » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:40 am UTC

Dopefish wrote:*shrug* Perhaps, although even in junior high I had some idea that "speed that way *points*+ speed that way *points in other direction*=0", even if at that point I thought a vector was some sort of fancy advanced thing I could never understand. Although I suppose I've always been a physics oriented sort of person, so eh.


A lot of people, when asked "so one speed that way, and then the same speed but that way, so where does it go?", like a family member I just asked, would either say "I don' know" or they'd say it goes the other direction. Speed is something very practical in real life, but force isn't. "I'm moving down the highway, then I make a u-turn. I'm now going to opposite direction".

Dopefish wrote:As a bit of an aside, I'm not sure a society where people demand proof of everything they believe would necessarily be better than one where they accept what scientists say. Sure at initial view, it sounds great, but in practice it'd likely quickly become impractical. The majority of people aren't sufficiently educated to necessarily understand a given proof, and so a bunch of things that scientists have spent X years gathering data on and effectively proving, and so for some potentially important beliefs that may be counter intuitive (i.e. smoking is linked to cancer), it can sometimes be best to just accept things. If you're actually interested in a field and researching whatever, then certainly, question everything, but it's somewhat impractical to demand proof of any given thing in general practice.


There's a difference between accepting it and truly believing it. A lot of people will just believe it when a scientist says it, but we're all used to another scientists popping up a few months later saying it was wrong and there's a new truth, right? Practically demonstrating something transparently makes people "believe" it. Take, for example, the myth that to get out of a sinking car, you should wait till the car fills up before trying to push open the door. If you just hear it, and you're caught in such a situation, the battle in your head is between to start pushing open the door now or wait - really just instinct and what you heard, and chances are instinct takes over. Seeing someone try it, practically, will make them remember what they saw and they have a higher chance of trusting what they learned and will wait till it fills up. Usually the better idea.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:47 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:I like how CSI:NY has a holodeck. And all the computers have touch-screen interfaces. Still waiting for the warp engines and teleporters, though.

Haven't watched a single "new" episode since that.
It's like if Columbo could teleport through time in someone else's body, and had a holographic friend who helped him. Oh wait...
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Mr_Rose » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:09 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:I like how CSI:NY has a holodeck. And all the computers have touch-screen interfaces. Still waiting for the warp engines and teleporters, though.

Haven't watched a single "new" episode since that.
It's like if Columbo could teleport through time in someone else's body, and had a holographic friend who helped him. Oh wait...

There's something that always bugged me about Quantum Leap (apart from the whole premise of time travel) - they never jumped on the obvious solution to their "dilemma" even after Sam Beckett actually used it in one episode; specifically, taking the guy they get back in the "waiting room" that's been displaced by Beckett and throw him into the accelerator aimed for whenever he came from.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby The Scyphozoa » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:05 pm UTC

Mr_Rose wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:I like how CSI:NY has a holodeck. And all the computers have touch-screen interfaces. Still waiting for the warp engines and teleporters, though.

Haven't watched a single "new" episode since that.
It's like if Columbo could teleport through time in someone else's body, and had a holographic friend who helped him. Oh wait...

There's something that always bugged me about Quantum Leap (apart from the whole premise of time travel) - they never jumped on the obvious solution to their "dilemma" even after Sam Beckett actually used it in one episode; specifically, taking the guy they get back in the "waiting room" that's been displaced by Beckett and throw him into the accelerator aimed for whenever he came from.

I thought they couldn't really control it?
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Sockmonkey » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:41 am UTC

It wasn't untill Sam returned in one episode and Al leaped that they found out how to target a specific time and person. Even then it only worked if you were leaped from the accelerator.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Mr_Rose » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:40 am UTC

Sockmonkey wrote:It wasn't untill Sam returned in one episode and Al leaped that they found out how to target a specific time and person. Even then it only worked if you were leaped from the accelerator.

That's what I'm saying; as soon as one "mission" is done, take the displaced guy from the waiting room, target the accelerator on himself in the past, and chuck 'im in.
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Re: Facepalm TV

Postby Spots » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:14 pm UTC

1. Another thing about Star Trek humanoids. They either have a skin color different than humans (most often blue), in which case the whole species has the same skin color. However, if their skin is the color of human skin, then they inevitably have at least two races. Usually white and black. In that order.

2. Computers. Lots of things have been said on the topic. Let me just add those lovely commands like "copy all files", especially without specifying a destination.

3. Explosions. I can't believe nobody mentioned the flame-packed explosions in space (unless I missed it). Classic.
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Re: Facepalm TV

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:21 pm UTC

Spots wrote:3. Explosions. I can't believe nobody mentioned the flame-packed explosions in space (unless I missed it). Classic.


Well, the ships have fuel, they have heat, and they have air. What more do you need? There are also other means with which glowing gaseous clouds could appear. Given the exotic nature of future engines, there's also the possibility of various ionized gases or plasmas that could look explosion-like as they cool down.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:53 pm UTC

Oh, but space explosions look totally different. Think of the test on the moon recently. Did it look as it would had you dropped a car into the earth? Without an atmosphere things act differently. However, most of us only think of atmospheric explosions, so a realistic one may look "wrong". Also most of the edited footage probably comes from recorded explosions on earth. Hence, it is wrong.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:00 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Oh, but space explosions look totally different. Think of the test on the moon recently. Did it look as it would had you dropped a car into the earth? Without an atmosphere things act differently. However, most of us only think of atmospheric explosions, so a realistic one may look "wrong". Also most of the edited footage probably comes from recorded explosions on earth. Hence, it is wrong.


But there -is- an atmosphere. As the crew likes to breathe, space ships are filled with air. Hull breaches vent this air, as well as flammable gas. And heat.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Spots » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:But there -is- an atmosphere. As the crew likes to breathe, space ships are filled with air. Hull breaches vent this air, as well as flammable gas. And heat.

But if there was an explosion, that would scatter the air and gas. Any fire that would develop should die out almost instantly because it would use up either oxygen or the material that was burning, since it's already scarce.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby BlackSails » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:23 pm UTC

There are things that can burn without oxygen because they have their own oxidizer in them.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Spots » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:33 pm UTC

Yes, but that still wouldn't produce the effect we see on TV.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:01 pm UTC

Spots wrote:Yes, but that still wouldn't produce the effect we see on TV.

Explosions never look like they do on TV outside of maybe the discovery channel. Similarly, despite what you may see in James Bond, grenades do not create massive fireballs.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:26 pm UTC

Spots wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:But there -is- an atmosphere. As the crew likes to breathe, space ships are filled with air. Hull breaches vent this air, as well as flammable gas. And heat.

But if there was an explosion, that would scatter the air and gas. Any fire that would develop should die out almost instantly because it would use up either oxygen or the material that was burning, since it's already scarce.


Well, between that and (glowing) deformation-heated debris flying in all directions, you'd get something explosion-esque (Star Trek explosions are typically quite granular, instead of the gas explosions are typically used in special effects). It's a reasonable compromise between fiction and reality.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:27 pm UTC

The atmosphere would dissipate too quickly. Even with enough pressure or air, you only have a hole/one side to vent it from. You do not have a surrounding atmosphere and pressure, only a vacuum.
I do not disagree that you could get ignition. Just that it would look like a tiny spark, as suppose to a plume of smoke and fire. I'm guessing it would look more like a sparkler.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Mr_Rose » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:00 pm UTC

Yeah, even if you got the precise ratios for a perfect fuel/air bomb and lit it inside a tin can space vessel, it wouldn't look like what you'd see on Earth because there's no air pressure outside to slow the debris down or force the expanding gasses into that familiar cloud shape.

Actually, I think it would be an interesting project; super-slow motion video captures of various fuel/air mixtures trapped inside moderately realistic spaceship models suspended in vacuum chambers. Bonus points if you get the rig onto the vomit comet so you can do microgravity shots too. 8)
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:13 pm UTC

It still falls within the confines of what is handwavable, especially given the presence of warp engines that distort space (and therefore also time), deflector shields, and so forth.

I'd be more concerned about the presence of sound in space than explosions.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Mr_Rose » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:28 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:It still falls within the confines of what is handwavable, especially given the presence of warp engines that distort space (and therefore also time), deflector shields, and so forth.

OK, but warp engines and deflector fields are already Doing It Wrong; using them to excuse bad explosions is just making things worse. :?
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Whelan » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:42 pm UTC

Warp drives are actually surprisingly accurate.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Levi » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:18 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:I'd be more concerned about the presence of sound in space than explosions.


The super-advanced computers analyze the video feed and provide appropriate aural accompaniment.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:25 am UTC

Whelan wrote:Warp drives are actually surprisingly accurate.

Not really, no.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby You, sir, name? » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:08 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
Whelan wrote:Warp drives are actually surprisingly accurate.

Not really, no.


What about the Alcubierre drive?
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:54 am UTC

Faster-than-light travel and deflector shields are genre conventions. That is, those are places where there is a deliberate, directed assault on the laws of the physics--the writers know that they're screwing up and correct for it. Things like sound in space are another level down--by this point, the writers honestly probably do know, they just don't care. The things that are actually deserving of contempt are when the science is unintentionally wrong/bad.
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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:48 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:
Whelan wrote:Warp drives are actually surprisingly accurate.

Not really, no.


What about the Alcubierre drive?

If you read the article on it, it's basically impossible and probably requires any two of exotic matter, tachyons, negative energy density, and a naked singularity, none of which are known to exist or be possible. Beyond this, the amount of mass necessary for such an extreme distortion is likely larger than the mass of the entire universe and regardless would make non-warp driving incredibly slow. Beyond this, such a drive would generate absurdly high temperatures from Hawking radiation and it would be impossible to steer or stop anyway because the ship is causally disconnected from everything outside the bubble.

The difficulties really go on and on.

But if by "accurate" you mean "similar to a hypothesized drive designed to resemble Star Trek that has been shown to be impossible" then I guess you are correct.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Link » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

Incidentally, neither negative energy density nor naked singularities are in the realm of "almost certainly impossible". Negative energy density has some evidence in the form of the Casimir effect, and naked singularities might be possible in some absurd situations (I seem to recall reading an article stating they might even form relatively easily, although I can't seem to find that article now). The Van den Broeck extensions to the metric seem promising, too.

Also consider that we still know relatively little about how gravity and space-time behave when stretched to the extremes: it's entirely possible that a fitting GUT or TOE reveals a feasible metric.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Moose Hole » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:27 pm UTC

Levi wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:I'd be more concerned about the presence of sound in space than explosions.


The super-advanced computers analyze the video feed and provide appropriate aural accompaniment.
Oh, that explains why you can't hear nearby stars exploding.

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Re: Facepalm TV / Doing It Wrong

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:32 pm UTC

Link wrote:Incidentally, neither negative energy density nor naked singularities are in the realm of "almost certainly impossible". Negative energy density has some evidence in the form of the Casimir effect, and naked singularities might be possible in some absurd situations (I seem to recall reading an article stating they might even form relatively easily, although I can't seem to find that article now). The Van den Broeck extensions to the metric seem promising, too.


I can buy the casimir effect to some extent (although that isn't really negative energy, though that is another discussion), but the article specifically mentions that. The problem is that the necessary mass is greater than the mass of the universe. Apparently Van den Broeck "succeeded" in reducing the necessary mass for small atoms to just three solar masses, but that's hardly progress.

I don't really know enough about naked singularities to comment on that.

Also consider that we still know relatively little about how gravity and space-time behave when stretched to the extremes: it's entirely possible that a fitting GUT or TOE reveals a feasible metric.


We do know some things though, and the Alcubierre drive just violates both typical quantum inequalities and common sense. Other difficulties I didn't mention include needing squeezing one billion times the mass of the observable universe of exotic matter into a sheet 10-32 m wide and apparently needing either tachyons or an Alcubierre drive to build an Alcubierre drive.

I am not saying no kind of drive remotely like this could exist, but this particular one can't.


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