from the world's big
Why making a real warp drive is possible
Recent advances indicate that the idea could work.
- Piggybacking on warp bubbles could get around Einstein's limitations for faster-than-light travel.
- Recent advances make this discarded idea look suddenly less laughable.
- Compressing and stretching space time may be the key.
If warp drives didn't exist in science fiction, the Enterprise's mission statement would have been "slowly going where no one has gone before." And never getting there, at least in a single Generation. The spaces between places in space are, in the real universe, so vast that the ability to jump from planet to planet would have to exceed the speed of light. In sci-fi, "Warp 5" means five times that speed. As far as we know, faster-than-light (FTL) travel is impossible. But maybe there's another way, according to a presentation at August's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Propulsion and Energy Forum by Joseph Agnew of University of Alabama in Huntsville's Propulsion Research Center.
The Alcubierre warp drive
Image source: pixelparticle/Shutterstock
According to the rules expressed in Einstein's Special Relativity Theory, the speed of light is simply a hard speed limit, and there's been no evidence anyone or anything can exceed it. (Quantum entanglement seems to happen faster than light, but it's by no means clear that anything is actually moving from one particle to another; it may just be something shared by both particles that somehow stays in sync.)
In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre suggested a way to go faster by hitching a ride on a bubble in the space-time fabric using an Alcubierre drive.
In the "Alcubierre metric," a wave could be employed to create a warp bubble that distorts space time, compressing the space in front of it while its back end stretched. In theory, a warp bubble's travel could far exceed the speed of light.
If a vehicle was inside such a bubble, it would be speedily carried along with it. Its own velocity would be of much less consequence than the bubble's. Since the ship itself would be traveling normally through its current region of space time inside the bubble, no relativistic effects would come into play. Think of a fly inside a moving, supplying its own forward, back, and side-to-side motion, but more significantly being carried forward by the car.
Image source: solarseven/Shutterstock
That's the idea anyway. There are a number of issues, though two significant obstacles stand out. We don't yet know how to create a warp bubble, and if we could, and got a vehicle inside one, we don't know how we'd get it back out once it reached its desired destination.
The biggest problem, though, that would have to be overcome is the staggering amount of energy possibly required in the creation of a bubble: The energy equivalent of the mass of Jupiter. (This actually represents an improvement over earlier estimates that required an equivalent to the mass of the entire universe.) Scientists are hopeful that exotic matter may one day provide a means of producing the requisite energy through advances in quantum physics, quantum mechanics and metamaterials. NASA, on the other hand, is already been exploring the creation of warp bubbles, looking at using an object no larger than the Voyager spacecraft. "What this does is it moves the idea from the category of completely impossible to maybe plausible," said Harold White of NASA's Eagleworks Laboratories: Advanced Propulsion.
There will have to be a lot of technical progress to be made before we zip off to Alderon (Which. Is. A. Real. Place?), with Agnew mentioning the development of new superconductors, magnetic generators, and interferometers.
A new hope
Image source: Greg Rakozy/unsplash
Agnew says he's been thinking about the Alcubierre drive ever since high school, when he came across and read Alcubierre's original paper. Recently, investigations such as NASA's have caused some to take another, more serious look at the physicist's hypothesis. In fact, Agnew cites the chuckles the theory often elicits from physicists as one of the main obstacles to working through the questions it raises.
Other discoveries of the last few years have strengthened the feasibility of the Alcubierre drive, he asserts.
"The LIGO discovery a few years back was, in my opinion, a huge leap forward in science, since it proved, experimentally, that spacetime can 'warp' and bend in the presence of enormous gravitational fields, and this is propagated out across the universe in a way that we can measure. Before, there was an understanding that this was likely the case, thanks to Einstein, but we know for certain now."
Further progress toward determining the feasibility of Alcubierre's proposal will require funding, which Agnew concedes is often hard to acquire, especially for "out there" ideas. Still, he thinks it's worth it. As he says:
"The theory has borne out thus far that it is well worth pursuing, and it is easier now than before to provide evidence that it is legitimate. In terms of justifications for allocation of resources, it is not hard to see that the ability to explore beyond our Solar System, even beyond our galaxy, would be an enormous leap for mankind. And the growth in technology resulting from pushing the bounds of research would certainly be beneficial."
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Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
Workers are adjusting to their new employment reality on couches and kitchen tables across the nation.
A new study suggests that an old tuberculosis vaccine may reduce the severity of coronavirus cases.
- A new study finds a country's tuberculosis BCG vaccination is linked to its COVID-19 mortality rate.
- More BCG vaccinations is connected to fewer severe coronavirus cases in a country.
- The study is preliminary and more research is needed to support the findings.
Professor Luis Escobar.
Credit: Virginia Tech