Replacing the hated “warp drive”

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Steven L Jordan, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    The trouble is people say theory when they should say "speculation".

    A theory can be tested. A speculation hasn't even gotten to that point.

    Real science is figuring out the unknown not making a big deal about the known. Even is quantum tunneling can work that does not mean it can work with macroscopic objects. So all FTL methods in fiction are over the line into the UNKNOWN. They may all be IMPOSSIBLE. So a writer can either make a good story with one of them or not.

    And the "experiment" of a vertical self supporting structure being completely collapsed by its top 15% was done where?

    psik
     
  2. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Sorry, what experiment is this?

    No wonder fantasy is so much more popular than SF right now... who needs all this needling and whingeing over a desire for realism in a story?
     
  3. JimF

    JimF Registered User

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    I am sure Psikeyhackr will correct me if I am wrong, and I am not trying to put words in his mouth, but I took that as a 911 reference to the WTC collapse.

    Jim
     
  4. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Yes, it was; his way of saying (more or less) that we can't account for everything, therefore anything is possible.

    My opinion is that, though we can't account for everything, I would still lean towards what is most likely. I think he and I disagree on that point (or, perhaps, exactly what is most likely).
     
  5. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    That is nowhere near what I was saying. Experiments are partly about getting facts straight to see if reality works the way people BELIEVE.

    psik
     
  6. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Which is relevant to this thread because...?
     
  7. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    Ah, there's the psikey we know. Psikey, please do not bring up the subject we told you not to bring up any more.
     
  8. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Were you saying that experiments were relevant to reality thereby making your version of fictional FTL superior to the "hated" warp drive or not?

    This concept of turning scientific thinking on and off only in relation to fiction is quite amusing.

    psik
     
  9. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    And are you questioning the validity of those experiments?
     
  10. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    I can hardly question the validity of experiments I have not even read about but that does not mean it can ever be applied on a macro scale. Just because physicists can get atomic particles to near light speed in a particle accelerator does not mean they can do it with 10 pounds of mass.

    psik
     
  11. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Maybe not... but it's a lot more to go on, and suggestive of the next steps that must be applied, than anything related to FTL, and by that measure much more likely to be an ultimately workable solution. In real life, or in SF.
     
  12. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    Da capo.

    I never do understand discusions like this. What is "impossible"? Any novel is full of "impossible" things, because the people portrayed do not and did not exist, or if they perchance did exist, did not do the things portrayed. That is why we invented the word fiction. Fiction is imagined untruths portrayed as if true.

    Science fiction is fiction in which some of the things portrayed are not possible within the world as we currently understand it, but are nonetheless presented as in accordance with the world of natural law as those in the tale understand it. There is, so far as I can see, zero necessity to construct an explicit, readily comprehensible bridge between our current understanding of the laws of nature and that of the world within the tale. Indeed, any such bridge is itself a fiction, by definition.

    So you either have to write "science fiction" stories in which nothing whatever happens that is not within our present understanding of the laws of nature, which is possible but extremely cramping and needlessly limiting, or you have to just accept some handwaving--which is fine, unless the handwaving happens to be essential to the core of the tale (which is rare indeed).

    Fiction is a way of exploring the human condition and of expanding our individual experiences of Life, the Universe, and Everything, of living lives and having experiences impossible within the scope of our real, constrained lives. "Warp drives" or the numerous variants thereof (from inertialess drives to hyperspace) are, as someone said, just the equivalent of automobiles in contemporary settings or sailing ships in historical settings. There may be nut cases who read historical fiction and go postal if the exact details of the sail construction are not set forth in excrutiating detail, but they are just that: nut cases. The vast majority of readers want only this from the tale: to know what happened to whom and how they reacted to it.

    And to presume that our present knowledge of the laws of nature somehow bounds or limits what we might be able to do in a mere century (look at history, and consider the concept of geometric growth), much less a millennium or so, seems--to me, at least--flat-out blind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  13. Riothamus

    Riothamus Registered User

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    You know I was wondering why so few had even thought of this.I was actually talking with my father about this subject, about how humans could accomplish such a feat by the grace of science alone and this was the eventual answer we reached.
     
  14. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    It makes sense, based on the science we know. And it's one thing to say "we don't know everything"--which, of course, we don't--and another to ignore the facts we do know about science and nature, and assume we'll simply find a workable brute-force method and "prove those facts wrong".
     
  15. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    This entire conversation has been rather meta, and unsatisfying. There are some tense moments, polarized positions, and little headway made by anyone. owlcroft expresses some of the same misgivings in his post.
    At this point I'd suggest to create another thread altogether, with a similar subject but different premise.

    (Take this suggestion as you like.)
     
  16. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Trust me, it's been unsatisfying to me as well. I'd hoped to stimulate useful conversation, not listen to argument for the sake of argument, science deniers and defense of indefensible tropes.

    Whatever idea you'd like to examine... feel free to start one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  17. ivanj

    ivanj Registered User

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    Steven, I think part of the problem of you trying to get a proper discussion going is that everyone now looks for a theory before they try building anything and if they can't find a theory then as far as they are concerned it can not be built.

    To me, as a now retired engineer, this attitude is totally back to front. If the Victorians had waited for the theory to emerge there would a very different world today because most of the inventions of that time would never have been made.

    One of the questions we should be asking ourselves is why we have allowed this state to be perpetuated. As an engineer I don't need to know the theory of how a thing works, I am quite satisfied that it does and can therefore be used to do its job.

    We have let theorists take over the running of science, even Einstein got it wrong, when they should be explaining what the engineers are doing after they have done it.

    We will never have more than a token space presence until some engineers start thinking 'out of the box' and produce something really new. For example there has to be a better way of getting into space than riding what is essentially an exploding totem pole. NASA is going backwards in their thinking not forwards and until the reverse that there will be stagnation.
     
  18. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    Scope and scale.

    While it is commonly said that new science typically builds on rather than "proves wrong" old science, the truth is that typically--and more and more so as our progress accelerates--the "expansion" of scope is so huge that it amounts to a whole new world revealed.

    Picture the world a mere couple of centuries ago. Now look at what is routine in our world, and ask yourself how much of that would have been, if depicted in a fiction, regarded by even the learned of 1812 as impossible, nonsensical poppycock? Probably most or all of it. Despite the fact that no one has exactly "proven Newton wrong".

    And, as I say, the pace accelerates.
     
  19. Chuffalump

    Chuffalump A chuffing heffalump

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    Personally I always liked Harry Harrison's (I think) Bloater Drive. He expanded the ship to the same size as the galaxy and then shifted the centre of gravity before contracting back to normal size. The shift in C.O.G. caused the contraction to centre in a different part of the galaxy. Hey Presto FTL.

    Totally impractical but entertaining anyway.
     
  20. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Quantum theory is the basis for all modern electronics. Despite the fact that we don't know exactly how it works, we know enough to use quantum effects to run our gadgets.

    Agreed: A better system than current rocket tech is needed to make ground-to-orbit transportation (and the return) more workable and controllable. (I elected to skip this particular issue in my Verdant series.)