Time Dilation with Warp Drives?

Spike Spiegel

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I just finished reading The Forever War, which is a freaking brilliant book. All the talk about time dilation got me thinking though. In the book, their primary means of covering long distances was the collapsar jumps, but they still had to accelerate between jumps nearly to light speed, which is where they encountered the time dilation. It seems they accelerated "traditionally", that is by thrusting for a long time at high power.

What about in the case of a ship that has a warp drive or jump drive, or any of the other similar sci-fi propulsion systems? In stories with Star Wars or Star Trek style physics they don't seem to encounter any relativistic effects. Is this an accurate representation, assuming you could warp space around your ship in order to travel? Would the crew of these ships encounter time dilation or any other unusual effects as a result of their method of travel?
 

Bj

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In stories with Star Wars or Star Trek style physics they don't seem to encounter any relativistic effects. Is this an accurate representation, assuming you could warp space around your ship in order to travel? Would the crew of these ships encounter time dilation or any other unusual effects as a result of their method of travel?

StarWars.. realistic :lol:

It is the traditional Hollywood stretch on things, never really realistic.

Check out:
Faster-than-light
 

Usquanigo

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assuming you could warp space around your ship in order to travel? Would the crew of these ships encounter time dilation or any other unusual effects as a result of their method of travel?

If you think of magic. I don't know if you are familiar with the Role Playing Game "Rifts" or not, but one of the staples of the game (and the root of the title), are 'rifts' in space-time that, while magic powered (as opposed to science or technology), allow people and 'things' to move from one place to another or one dimension to another with a mere step. Like a doorway in space/time. Similar to the classic sci-fi wormhole in a sense.

If you walk through this doorway, you've not gone faster than walking speed, you just "pop" in someplace else.

Would that involve relativistic effects?

I'd say, if you are using a Star Trek style warp drive, your ship is not actually approaching light speed at all (heck, for that matter, it might not even be 'moving'), so effects would likely be minimal at best.

Also, even if they were travelling at light speed while in warp, they are primarily travelling for short periods due to their warp engines, so the actual time at light speed will still probably add up to be very little. So with regard to those around them, the effects would again be minimal.

So in both those cases, I'd say yes, it is an accurate representation. The one place it's off would be IF we assume that the Enterprise is actually moving at light speed within it's warp bubble, which is itself moving space around it faster than light (like running on a moving sidewalk), then travel times would be instantaneous to the crews on board. However, that's only IF they are moving that fast witin their own reference frame. If they are not moving at all, then they will experience the full time it takes to reach their destination (like standing in place while the destination approached them).
 

T.Neo

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You won't get any relativistic effects with the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive"]Alcubierre drive[/ame], AFAIK. That's about as close as you're going to get to a Star Trek "Warp drive".

I believe there was a certain Star Wars story where a guy's ship has a handwavium failure, leading to his journey appearing to take a few minutes/hours for him, but over 300 years from an outside reference frame. Apparently the technology to prevent any time dilation effects is called "relativistic shielding", whatever that is.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heim_Theory"]Heim theory[/ame] could make a form of propulsion similar to the "hyperdrive" of science fiction possible; it also lends a nifty "gravity drive" for propulsion at any speed. Some more details on propulsion with Heim theory can be found on Orbiterwiki here. I don't know what role time dilation would play here.

The closest thing to a "jump drive" that has been speculated on is perhaps a wormhole; unfortunately it isn't that easy to make wormhole mouthes appear, and appear where you want them to light-years away. A wormhole would be a massive engineering project.

These examples aren't total sci-fi handwavium, but they're highly speculative at best and have many problems that could be unsurmountable; the problems of tachyonic matter, negative matter, large amounts of energy, navigation problems and quantum instabilities/hawking radiation with the Alcubierre drive, or the fact that Heim theory is a fringe theory in science (it was never peer-reviewed). There is however some experimental evidence for phenomena that might relate to Heim theory.
 
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tori

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Heim never submitted his work for peer review not because he had doubts about its validity, but because he was a secluded, introverted individual (not a surprising personality for someone who got both his arms, parts of his face, eyesight and hearing blown off by an explosive in teenage years).

So his theory's fringe status is a little bit unjustified.
 
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T.Neo

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So his theory's fringe status is a little bit unjustified.

True, but the fact remains that the paper hasn't been peer reviewed.

I have wondered if Heim propulsion theory would make a better enabler in science fiction than a piece of total handwavium. Heim theory may very well succumb to Science Marches On (though if it's correct it would be pretty awesome), but it's arguably better than complete technobabble.

My problem with a Heim drive in SF is that if your ship uses a graviphoton drive, it avoids all the trouble with rocket performance, mass ratios, etc. Which can be pretty interesting plot points on their own...
 

tori

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I've read a bunch of Heim papers (superficially looked them over would be more accurate) and I haven't been able to deduce any real energy requirements (anyone?). If they reach into terawatts for a manned vessel of any decent size, then we still have a reason to include conventional reactive rockets in our stories. What's it called when you can use your Phlebotinum-Kitteh Composite fueled Space Drive only very scarcely? :)
 

Spike Spiegel

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A space drive powered by kittens? This requires further research and development on the grounds that it is just too adorable to leave be. We'll be going "d'awwww" all the way to Alpha Centauri.

Thanks for the insightful comments so far. And yes, this would be related to a sci-fi story that I'll eventually (sigh) write. I'm trying to gradually get all my facts straight so that once it's out there it doesn't get ripped completely to shreds by people who actually know a thing or two.

Also, "relativistic shielding"? Isn't that essentially a time machine? Funny stuff. I guess if readers can accept that, I shouldn't have too much to worry about, especially if I'm even the least bit accurate about things.
 

T.Neo

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Also, "relativistic shielding"? Isn't that essentially a time machine? Funny stuff. I guess if readers can accept that, I shouldn't have too much to worry about, especially if I'm even the least bit accurate about things.

It sounds like they work via inverting the polarity of the handwavion flow.

See relativistic shielding on Wookieepedia.
 
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