Space-time curvature and warp drive - search for technical solutions using analog modeling

Jan 29, 2020

Trying to conquer outer space without using rockets, we faced two extremes. One of them is the numerous impossible and non-working engines created in practice on non-existent principles, and the other is very scientific principles that work according to the laws of physics, but, nevertheless, do not explain how to create such an engine. We will try to figure out how to implement a warp engine technically, that is, how to warp space in practice.

The most recent theory of the warp drive was proposed in 2020 by Eric Lenz. Its advantage is that it does not require the attraction of exotic antimatter to create a huge mass and works on the well-known laws of physics. Lenz, instead of the Alcubierre bubble, proposes to use solitons - single waves traveling over long distances without changing their shape or smoothing out.

Solitons arise in a variety of environments that are conducive to the formation of waves. Soliton was discovered by Scottish physicist John Scott Russell in 1834. Here's what he found:

“I was following the movement of the barge, which was being quickly pulled along a narrow channel by a pair of horses, when the barge suddenly came to a stop. But the mass of water that the barge set in motion gathered near the bow of the ship in a state of frantic movement, then suddenly left it behind, rolling forward at great speed and taking the form of a large single rise - a rounded, smooth and well-defined mound of water.

He continued on his way along the canal, without changing its shape or slowing down in any way. I followed him on horseback, and when I caught up with him, he was still rolling forward at about 8-9 miles per hour, retaining its original elevation profile, about thirty feet long and a foot to one and a half feet high. Its height gradually decreased, and after one or two miles of chase I lost it in the bends of the canal. "

Solitons are waves that behave like particles (a particle-like wave): when interacting with each other or with some other perturbations, they do not collapse, but continue to move, keeping their shape and speed unchanged. Solitons can spread in different environments. In 2002, a satellite of the European Space Agency discovered a soliton about 6 km wide in the region of the magnetopause, moving towards the outer edge of the solar system at a speed of about 9 km / s.

As a matter in which it is supposed to excite such a soliton, Lenz proposes to use a magnetoactive relativistic plasma. A relativistic plasma is essentially a plasma moving at a speed that makes up a significant part of the speed of light. Such a plasma can be created either by heating a gas to very high temperatures, or by impacting a high-energy particle beam. For example, it forms in supernovae. Therefore, although Lenz saved us from using very inaccessible dark matter, we still have the problem of unrealistically huge energy.


Just right to forget about it, and look in the direction of something simpler. Whether it's EMdrive - we take a microwave, put it in a bucket and a miracle happens there. Outside, no one sees it, but inside it is there ... Or solitons? After all, it's real and perhaps we will be able to find an easier way to get them.

To study this issue, we have a simple and affordable tool - this is water. In 1981, physicist William Unruh proposed to study black holes using analog, that is, those based on similarities, models of gravity, a method recently used by scientists. They observed the funnel as a result of the drainage of water in an attempt to simulate a black hole, and they did find similar features. In particular, this was the case with the waves that were absorbed by the funnel.

And so we see that many processes occurring in the space of time and which are difficult to directly observe are reflected in the macrocosm of the matter we are accustomed to. Therefore, we can try to make an analog model based on water to understand how to warp space and time. Our task is to simulate a warp drive in water. But first, let's figure out what a soliton is.

A soliton, visible in water as a surface wave, is structurally an annular or toroidal vortex. This is the optimal form of movement of matter in the environment. In a narrow sense next - a phenomenon in which a region of a rotating liquid or gas moves through the same medium.


Typically, such a vortex appears as a result of a sharp jolt, and the most obvious example is a smoke ring.
The reason for its existence is that trajectories of particles that move chaotically in a calm environment (Brownian motion) seem to be closed and this leads to their movement in a circle. These particles have their own energy, which manifests itself as their constant mutual attraction and repulsion. It allows them to be in motion all the time, and therefore they can transfer the energy contained in the vortex over long distances without loss. Such a vortex can be reflected and change direction, thereby repeating the properties of the particle. This guy perfectly demonstrates how a toroidal vortex / soliton / wave / particle behaves in different situations:


In the case of the barge, which formed a soliton in the channel, what happened was that the mass of water entrained by it continued its movement after the ship stopped. The bow of the barge squeezed the water ahead of it, creating a forward-moving wave, while a zone of reduced pressure followed. The stopping of the barge led to the fact that while the central part of the wave was still moving forward by inertia, its edges began to be pulled into rarefaction from behind. And since their volume was not enough to fill this space, water poured into it from behind. This led to the appearance of a closed toroidal vortex.

The simplest example of this phenomenon is probably known to everyone. When a car comes past you at speed, after a while you feel how the air following it pushes you. If this car suddenly stops abruptly, the air vortex will hit it from behind and scatter, reflected to the sides. And the narrow channel of the channel, in which the exchange was moving, allowed the vortex to re-reflect and go around the exchange to continue moving forward.

And so, how will the spacecraft move in such a soliton using the example of water?

Unfortunately, the infinite or very long motion of a ship in a soliton is possible only in two cases - if the ship itself turns into a toroidal structure, or if the soliton is so huge and powerful that the ship will be carried away by it like smoke particles in a smoke ring traveling in a vicious circle. The second option is, in principle, more acceptable, but nevertheless it is the same thing that a tornado will carry you away. So we have not yet solved the problem of a huge amount of energy, although we have shown by the example of liquid and gas that travel in a soliton is quite possible.

But let's try to consider a different approach. In the case of the exchange, there was still a moment when the soliton created by it put pressure on it, forcing it to move on, until it overtook it and went ahead. The fact is that the formation of an annular vortex of the soliton was caused not so much by the wave pushed by the barge as by the free space behind it. Filling this space with water was like a collapse and allowed the formation of a soliton behind the ship.

In order for the barge to create a soliton of the slightest degree, it is enough for it to simply move forward relative to its center of mass, as in the classic example with a barge and a car. If the car travels along the barge from bow to stern, then its hull will move forward and this will also create a soliton. If this displacement is sharp enough, then we can get the same force that resulted from the slow towing of the barge by horses for a long time. And although the action of the soliton on the ship will be short and almost imperceptible, we will be able to repeat this action, returning the car to its starting point very slowly, so that this does not cause a backward-directed soliton of the same strength. With each subsequent jerk, the initial speed of the barge will already be greater, and we will be able to accelerate little by little, with the help of small but multiple solitons and without the participation of excessively huge energy. Thus, we have already obtained the simplest water model of a spacecraft propelled by solitons. This is what it looks like (forgive me those who have seen this many times):


Okay, this, of course, is great in the water - you pull forward and move. But in space, we still need a relativistic plasma and what to get it from. And this is not much better than a rocket. If it's better at all. How can we bend space without this? Maybe the Doppler effect? We paint the front of the ship in blue, and the tail in red, and now we get light waves, short in front and long in the back - the space around the ship is curved. A ship from the front approaches from the front and recedes from behind ...

But seriously - can we get a warp bubble by compressing the space behind the ship and expanding it in front with the help of waves to get this:


Let's try to do this for a start with at least water. We can take the same exchange as a basis for our model, imagining that its body is a kind of emitter that creates waves in water-space. We will also move it back and forth with the car and push the water in opposite directions with different strengths. We will send a strong wave forward, and a weak wave back, and so the water around the barge will stretch more on one side than on the other. In principle, we have already done this and we managed to get movement through waves of different lengths as in the picture above. These waves are:


And as we already know, these waves must be solitons, that is, practically moving material objects, because in the case of elastic waves, no movement will occur except for circles on the water. In order to get them in space, we still need a plasma source.

Or not? After all, we can make small solitons, but a lot, extracting them directly from the space of time, from which the stars were formed, and any other that is quite tangible and materially carried in space at great speeds. We just have to answer the question how? How to form a soliton from space-time?

The answer is a wave particle. This is the minimal soliton that forms from space-time. Think of the guy with the smoke rings, which, although they are not solids, still behave like they - they hit, reflect, change direction, split in two, and at the same time do not lose their energy as if they were just balls. This is the analog wave-particle model that can be created in water or air. We can make photons, right?

This means that in order for our barge to be able to leave the channel and go to conquer space, it must transform, transform ...


Transform into a photon engine. This is an engine in which the energy source is a body that emits light. The photon has an impulse and, accordingly, when it flows out of the engine, the light creates a jet thrust. Theoretically, a photon engine can develop the maximum thrust possible for a jet engine in terms of the spent mass of the spacecraft, allowing it to reach speeds close to the speed of light.
Uh .. what a twist. But this is not interesting, you might think, we have already heard this, this is a matter of the distant future, and so on, and so on. And the speed of light remained insurmountable. And in general, this is again a jet engine, but we wanted something else - warp, drive ...

There is bad news (with a very gray beard) - no material body can set itself in motion without another material body of the same kind, which in some way is also a soliton - a photon. But at least we can get a working fluid from the environment, and this is already good news. So don't be discouraged, especially since we have one little consolation bonus that was not there before - this is the water model of this soliton-photon-emitting and radiant warp drive.

And in fact, we only recently learned how it works in practice. Although it has existed for a very long time, it has been endowed with any qualities other than those that it actually possesses. Some, very educated people, believed that she moved without starting from anything and seemed to pull herself by the nose like Baron Münghausen. Other, even more educated people believed that she was moving backwards, because they did not know such laws of physics (we talked about them when we studied the movement of the barge), that would allow her to move as it happens. And given this, we can assume that they also did not know something about photon and warp drives. What exactly? Well, maybe the fact that they will fly backwards, or a little faster and easier than it once seemed. Who knows? At least we already have some prerequisites to try to implement this technically and a chance to test it.

Well ... all that remains is to come up with a little thing with which this body will radiate ... Maybe a small car that will go inside very quickly ...

It can be simplified a little. Perhaps you are wondering what a photon engine that radiates in one direction and that wondrous radiant body have in common. We will return to analog models. The analogue of the photon engine will be an ordinary acoustic speaker. Some uncles point out that the speaker can create the pressure of sound waves. But in fact, if we download a frequency generator to our phone and turn on a very nasty sound of about 1000 hertz, and then bring a source of smoke to it, we will not see any sound waves.

We will see a jet stream. Air will be drawn in at the edges of the speaker and ejected from the center in the form of solitons. They will be obtained because as a result of the vibration of the membrane, rarefaction will appear every now and then, the collapse of which forms a soliton. It will exert pressure on the membrane and then, being reflected, fly back in the form of a jet stream. The same thing happens behind our water model - the waves that come back from it are reflected solitons. And by the way, just like an ordinary rocket, the exhaust gases are pushed into the nozzle, and then they fly out, unnecessary to anyone. Didn't you know?

In general, we buy an ordinary Chinese flashlight, throw it into space and the warp drive is ready ...

But still, if you were able to digest all this and took it for granted that jet propulsion with or without emissions on an equal footing with sailing is our destiny, then how can we make such a powerful flashlight that will fly away by itself? Share your ideas, they are sure to be stolen by someone. Perhaps it will be me.
Jan 29, 2020
Faster than light. Finding technical solutions using analog modeling

In the previous article, trying to get closer to solving the warp engine problem with an analog hydrodynamic model, we were able to reproduce the curvature of space-time.

We took as a basis the idea of creating a warp bubble by Eric Lenz from a soliton and came to the conclusion that it would be more rational to create successively many small solitons. We also assumed that the wave particle is the minimum soliton. Then our warp engine turned into a photon or possibly another engine, the principle of which is based on the emission of electromagnetic waves, and therefore the question of overcoming the light barrier remained open. Now let's try to solve this problem with the help of water and reproduce the overcoming of the light barrier.

As we know, the speed of light propagation is constant and we cannot transfer anything of interest to us faster without some special trick. Let's first see what we can do. For example, we can look at the moon. And if we turn our heads, it will seem to us that the moon has moved as if it was moving faster than the speed of light. True, no matter how you turn your head, it will not get closer. Well, okay, there is still the Alcubierre bubble, that is, a certain area of space that moves with us faster than light, but inside it we are motionless relative to the space around us.

In 2021, Alexey Bobrik and Gianni Martyr theoretically proved that a warp bubble can be created without the use of exotic matter. They described by an equation the shell of a bubble based on a rotating body, in which sufficiently distant objects can move at an arbitrarily high speed, exceeding the speed of light. As in the example with the Moon. Let's try to find a practical solution to this problem.

We have already considered a soliton as a toroidal vortex as a warp bubble, but it is impossible for it to overcome the speed of light. Using an ordinary smoke ring as an analog model for such a bubble, we can observe that no matter how powerful the impulse that formed it is, it will still move with a finite speed, and the energy contained in it will be expressed in size. By the way, this is another of the properties of liquids and gases, which allows you to draw an analogy between them and what happens in space and time.

Gases and liquids also do not like it when their speed relative to something becomes higher than certain values. They begin to swirl and form layers of currents in the vortices, which, relative to each other, continue to move at their favorite speed and stretch at the same time. Maybe if you didn’t know, even supersonic aircraft, let alone warp ships, the air are not allowed to overcome the speed of sound relative to themselves, but only relative to the observer.


Vortex in a lateral section

At the front of the shock wave in front of an aircraft flying faster than sound, very sharp changes in the properties of the flow occur - its speed relative to the aircraft decreases and becomes subsonic, the temperature and density increase, as in the compression of a vortex. The plane becomes, as it were, a part of a huge vortex structure, in which the inner layers move faster than the outer ones so that their relative speeds do not increase.

Let's see how this looks like in a vortex ring. Although it moves at its maximum speed, equal to the speed of its boundaries of relatively calm air, in its central part, which will give impetus to our ship, the movement of air is faster. Here is a visual solution to the relative speed of the warp bubble without violating the speed limits.


The only thing is that for our ship to cover the distance from point A to point B faster than light, the soliton must be much greater than this distance. For example the size of a galaxy. Or very dense, which turns it into a black hole, which is also not small, that is, into the very unreal mass that is needed to bend the space-time. Or a star.

With an airplane, something like this happens - there is an effect of added mass in the form of vortex structures around the airplane. You will even be sucked there like a black hole if it flies close. That is, an analog model based on air or water suggests that you just need to fly fast and the warp will be done by itself. That's all.

Someone will say: well, let's say so. And your this soliton is not clear what engine will accelerate us so?

Who knows, will he overclock or not. Let's approach the question from the other side - from the wave. Is it possible to accelerate faster than light by emitting waves at the speed of light? As already mentioned in the last article, the particle waves created by it will give impulse to the ship, hitting it from behind. If he accelerates to speed C - will they catch up with him to communicate this impulse?

Physicists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the University of Rochester at New York
york, huh .., managed to exceed the speed of light by pulses inside a hot plasma.

But the speed of light was not exceeded by the photons themselves, but by the rhythmic rises and falls of whole groups of light waves. This is called the group velocity, or the speed at which the maximum of the amplitude envelope, or wave train, travels. It can be configured to slow down or accelerate relative to the waves themselves, but this can only be called superluminal movement. Although in many cases the group velocity determines the rate of energy transfer and maybe this is how we can push off the particles that are left behind? At least we can check this with a hydrodynamic model, which hasn't failed yet.

In the next video, although the speed of the model is not high, thanks to special debris in the water, you can see that it moves at intervals that do not coincide with the frequency of the waves. This suggests that the impulse is transmitted to it not by separate waves, but by their declines and rises, which can move faster than the waves themselves. Transferring this to space-time, we can assume that areas of compressed and stretched space will alternate behind the ship, in which waves will alternately catch up with it, imparting momentum, and lag behind.


Yes ... impressive ... and how long are we going to fly to Alpha Centauri on this?

Unfortunately, this model does not have a frequency setting. But luckily there is one guy named Midi_Music KH who made and even patented a very efficient speaker-based acoustic motor for a boat. It is also analogous to our hydrodynamic warp drive model.

Before we look at it, we will clarify this. In hydrodynamics, there is a phenomenon similar to the overcoming of the sound barrier by an airplane. This is a wave crisis that occurs when the speed of the vessel overcomes the speed of waves on the water. After that, as a rule, planing begins above the surface of the water, since it becomes difficult to advance in the water.


In our model before last, we observed such a wave pattern that spoke of movement by compression and expansion of the water continuum, but the speed of the waves was not overcome. It looked like this:

Now let's take a look at this:


As we can see, the pattern of the waves has changed dramatically and we no longer see the waves in front of the ship. But we can still see two groups of waves as in the previous case, only now they are rearranged differently. The waves that in the first model propagated far ahead are now closed in a narrow sector, reminiscent of a shock wave from a supersonic aircraft. This wave causes them to move backward and compress the group of waves that is behind, which is why they now propagate in the form of closed rings. This is very reminiscent of overcoming the speed of sound and it looks like our water warp drive nevertheless, albeit on the smallest piece, has overcome the light barrier. Now we just have to make it real and check it out.

Uh ... what if we get sucked into a black hole?

Come on, people used to think different things too ...
  • Like
Reactions: Catastrophe


"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Master Ogon, you have to be congratulated on your imagination and on your graphics. I cannot say that I agree with you, but you are certainly doing a good job. Well done.

On the subject of FTL travel, I just thought of a new paradox. At least it is new to me. It probably occurs in SF stories somewhere.

You set off at FTL speed. Stop, aim your laser cannons back along your flight path, and destroy your own ship before you get to get to arrive to destroy yourself. Sorry if it is a bit morbid. Let's say you have an enemy spy aboard who fires the laser. A variation on the grandmother paradox.

Cat :) :) :)
Jan 29, 2020

I think that time is the speed of physical processes. And the change in the speed of the passage of time is comparable, for example, with the speed of movement, depending on the radius of rotation. I think in reality, when we move faster than light, only our light trail will be left behind, like the sound of an airplane. And the ghost of our ship will travel for a long time at the speed of light. And meet the laser.


"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
I do not believe that physics today is at the point where it can tell you what happens when you hit a ship travelling FTL with a weapon which has not been invented yet.
But that's the fun of it. As long as we realise that it is just fun.

Cat :)
Jan 29, 2020
Nobody is safe from this. We can be met at the destination by the expedition that departed after us. We can arrive at a planet that no longer exists. Or a reasonable civilization will have time to develop there.

And surely when we overcome the speed of light, we still will not fully understand the nature of this. In general, the experiment will show


"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
It depends on whether you believe the division by zero stuff. If it is true (and it is an infinitely big if?) then things get difficult for you with accelerating rapidity, until, apparently, you have to contend with accelerating mass. Difficult. Your fuel starts getting heavier than you can move the total mass of your ship.

Anyway, Good Luck!

Cat :)
Jan 29, 2020
Here, for some reason, the photos flew off. I don't know if they can be downloaded, I add them with a link. There were mostly famous illustrations that everyone has already seen, but I have updated the most important ones. This is a photo of waves from hydrodynamic models and an annular vortex in the section.

Latest posts