# Thread: What's the fastest a human made object has (or presently can) travel?

1. Originally Posted by Nereid
What about things somewhat bigger than atomic nuclei, but smaller than spacecraft? And not launched into space, but shot from guns, of some kind or another, right here on Earth (although perhaps in a chamber pumped pretty much free of air)?
Well I guess that these are bullets propelled to orbital velocities in hypervelocity impact chambers used for determining the impact of space debris of some size and velocity hitting a spacecraft are the fastest.Maybe the Z machine when it propells small plates to 30 km/s ; http://209.85.129.104/search?q=cache...lnk&cd=5&gl=sk .I do not know.

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Originally Posted by DyerWolf
Are our spacecraft moving at even a percentage of the speed of light?
Come on, now... Even I move at a percentage of the speed of light when riding my bike: 30 feet per second, which is 2.98686E-06% the speed of light. It can also be expressed as 0.000003%, or 3 one-millionths of a percent of the speed of ligth.

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Originally Posted by mugaliens
Come on, now... Even I move at a percentage of the speed of light when riding my bike: 30 feet per second, which is 2.98686E-06% the speed of light. It can also be expressed as 0.000003%, or 3 one-millionths of a percent of the speed of ligth.
Poor draftsmanship 'O Detailed One.' I grovel in the presence of your unfathomable mind...

I really wanted to learn whether any of our space probes have reached speeds faster than 3,000 km/s.

If I may be so bold: "3 one-millionths of a percent" is, nonetheless, still not 'a percentage'.

Last edited by DyerWolf; 2007-Aug-13 at 07:16 PM.

4. Originally Posted by DyerWolf
Poor draftsmanship 'O Detailed One.' I grovel in the presence of your unfathomable mind...

I really wanted to learn whether any of our space probes have reached speeds faster than 3,000 km/s.

If I may be so bold: "3 one-millionths of a percent" is, nonetheless, still not 'a percentage'.

New Horizons is gping the fastest.Around 16.5 km/s.

5. Originally Posted by m1omg
New Horizons is gping the fastest.Around 16.5 km/s.
Did you read the other posts in this thread? Messenger is going much faster than New Horizons right now.

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## Is there a practical use for Nanorobots Tecnology

Why not remove the burden of mass, attach nanorobotics to a partical of light an have a great trip?

7. Originally Posted by Rues
Why not remove the burden of mass, attach nanorobotics to a partical of light an have a great trip?
Welcome to the BAUT forum.

Good idea. Create a nanobot weighing perhaps 100,000,000 protons, and put it on a Solar Sail a few cm across made of Carbon nanotubes spaced five per micron, with a mass of about 10,000,000,000,000 protons. Total mass: 16 picograms. Hit it with the most intense laser that won't melt it, and let it fly.

8. So... This microscopic space prob arrives at some far distant civilized outpost and...
gets eaten by a rodent.
Swallowed by a bird.
lost in the sand dunes.

What are you thinking..? If you make a space vessel so small as to attain near to light speed..,but can not actually do anything with it. Please explain where this might be a good idea..?

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Well,,, If a rodent ate my nanorobot, we would have to kill the rodent.

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Can not sophisticated robots replicate themselves in the millions, billions, trillions? Could robots of microscopic size build robots of average size? Really is there anything a robot could'nt do?

11. Originally Posted by Rues
Can not sophisticated robots replicate themselves in the millions, billions, trillions?
It depends on your definition of "robot." Certainly, self replicating systems currently exist that can replicate themselves in the trillions under the right conditions. However, I suspect you're thinking of something a bit different. If you're talking about robotic systems that we build - not yet.

Could robots of microscopic size build robots of average size? Really is there anything a robot could'nt do?
They couldn't break physical law. Energy and material limitations are commonly ignored in stories about self replicating systems. Also, if we built self replicating systems (macro, micro or nano scale) we might well build in some limitations to go along with the practical limitations.

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Why limit the term "object" to spacecraft-sized? In your own home, every time you turn on a flashlight, you accelerate human-made objects (photons) to nearly the speed of light (attenuated only by the refractive index of our atmosphere).

13. With Ion propultion it should be possible to reach speeds near .35 light.

However it would take years of acceleration to reach that point, and would unly be usefull for interstellar probe, as you'd have the slow the thing down again. Which also require years of deceleration.

14. ## Along these lines I have a question...

Dr. BA suggested to me that I ask here, so although I dread being skewered, here's the assist I need:

I'm currently writing a novel mocking the Intelligent Design Creationism Hoax and its perpetrators. It's set in the future. The plot requires interstellar space flight of human beings.

Now, I'm not looking for the magic and mystical warp drive, but I do need to make the drive work on principles that are at least plausible enough to encourage the suspension of disbelief. I was hoping you folks might help so I wouldn't wind up as a negative example on the pages of BadAstronomy. I'd really appreciate any assistance y'all could offer.

I like, and need for the novel, strong female characters, basically because there's nothing that will aggravate a fundy more than an overachieving girl.

To those ends, I'd like to base my fictional drive on the work of Dr. Lene Hau, and her work involving stopping a beam of light, changing into matter, and then releasing it from a point several nanometers away.

Here are the few relevant paragraphs in their current (albeit still rough in a literary sense as well as a science fiction sense) form:

Interstellar travel became possible because of a breakthrough in physics right around the turn of the millennium. A mere hundred years previous to that, a physicist named Einstein had shown mathematically that traveling faster than the speed of light was impossible. Even moving at that speed would make journeys to the stars extremely impractical, so a general shift in this branch of physics research took place. Instead of trying to break the light barrier, physicists began to look for ways around it. One such scientist, Dr. Lene Hau discovered that she could stop a beam of light in one place, change it into matter, hold it, then send it on its merry way beginning from an entirely different position a few nanometers away by using some arcane principle of Quantum Mechanics which I do not understand to this day. Once she had accomplished that, it just became a matter of two variables; scale and a placement of a receiver.

Even using her original method, there needed to be some sort of device at the receiving end, the point where the light picked up its journey again. That meant that if you wanted to use this technique to travel to the nearest star, you first still had to travel there conventionally, a trip taking thousands of years at that level of technology, to install the receiving device.

But then she and others built on that technology, and discovered that they could create a form of the receiving device by manipulating matter in one place and manipulating energy in another place some distance away. So by building a receiver in her lab, she could create one in the parking lot of her lab out of energy without ever leaving her office - or something like that. I'm a starship captain, not a physicist.

Massive advances in computer capacity and speed made just before the fall of the Republic allowed for calculating all the variables of any piece of matter, turning it into information embedded in a beam of energy, running it though Dr. Hau's device, and then in some other place extracting all the information necessary to reconstruct the original matter from the beam when it emerged.

While in theory this could be used to transport anything almost instantaneously from one point to any other point in the universe at will without ever needing a starship, the rise of the Pax crippled her research. Such absolute freedom of movement would have spelled the end of the Pax's control.

Part of the cat was already out of the bag however, and the Pax could not put it back. The research already in hand led to the first starships, and it is on these principles that the Hau drive still works. In layman's terms, the drive projects a receiver into empty space ahead of itself, turns itself into energy, transports itself, reconstructs itself, and then repeats thousands of times a second. In this way large distances can be covered by taking many little bites without running afoul of the universe's grand speed limit. The time it takes to cover a given amount of distance is only constrained by the speed of the computer running the drive and the distance it is able to project the receiver.

15. JanieBelle,

I could suggest you do a search on NASA's web site for Abercombie Warp Drive.

Its the only theoretical model of a FTL drive that could actually work with the physics we know today so far.

The problem with the drive you mentioned, is the transmision of energy. The energy would have to 'move' to the receving point and that would be constrined to the light speed limit.

Such a thing might be possible if you were making the recievers out of Quantum Entangled matter, but no ones managed to make Entangled matter very stable yet.

I'd say Ambercombies Warp Drive would be your best best.

16. Thanks for the direction.

The quantum entanglement thing is what I was shooting for, I just couldn't manage to pull the name out of my head. I'm brain fried at the moment from working at the novel so hard, I think.

I'll do a look see for the Abercrombie Warp Drive, and see if I can work with that.

17. Sorry, Double post, apparently.

18. ## Alcubierre and Fitch

Ok, I've searched the crap out of NASA's web site and I'm coming up blank. No Abercombie or Ambercrombie or Abercrombie (also no Fitch, just to be sure).

I did however come across a guy named Alcubierre:
Here’s the premise behind the Alcubierre "warp drive": Although Special Relativity forbids objects to move faster than light within spacetime, it is unknown how fast spacetime itself can move. To use an analogy, imagine you are on one of those moving sidewalks that can be found in some airports. The Alcubierre warp drive is like one of those moving sidewalks. Although there may be a limit to how fast one can walk across the floor (analogous to the light speed limit), what about if you are on a moving section of floor that moves faster than you can walk (analogous to a moving section of spacetime)? In the case of the Alcubierre warp drive, this moving section of spacetime is created by expanding spacetime behind the ship (analogous to where the sidewalk emerges from underneath the floor), and by contracting spacetime in front of the ship (analogous to where the sidewalk goes back into the floor). The idea of expanding spacetime is not new. Using the "Inflationary Universe" perspective, for example, it is thought that spacetime expanded faster than the speed of light during the early moments of the Big Bang. So if spacetime can expand faster than the speed of light during the Big Bang, why not for our warp drive? These theories are too new to have either been discounted or proven viable.
Any other sticky issues?

Yes... First, to create this effect, you’ll need a ring of negative energy wrapped around the ship, and lots of it too. It is still debated in physics whether negative energy can exist. Classical physics tends toward a "no," while quantum physics leans to a "maybe, yes." Second, you’ll need a way to control this effect to turn it on and off at will. This will be especially tricky since this warp effect is a separate effect from the ship. Third, all this assumes that this whole "warp" would indeed move faster than the speed of light. This is a big unknown. And fourth, if all the previous issues weren’t tough enough, these concepts evoke the same time-travel paradoxes as the wormhole concepts.
So although my original drive had the quantum entanglement issue, this guy's drive seems to have a whole lot more issues, like whether negative energy even exists, how to separate the effect from the ship, and whether it would even go faster than light.

Did I find the wrong guy? 'Cause that doesn't sound much like "a FTL drive that could actually work with the physics we know today so far".

I'll keep looking for variants of "Ambercombie" or "Abercombie" (the two spellings you gave me).

In the meantime, I'm still open to suggestions if anyone's got 'em.

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I've heard of AberCrombie- but it has nothing to do with FTL drives.

You got it when you said Alcubierre. That's the correct one.

I had thought you were kidding when you said abercrombie. I thought about posting a correction after you but... Didn't wnat to misinterpret the joke. Oh well..

20. Thanks Neverfly. No blood, no foul. If nothing else, you saved me even more frustration and time in continuing to search.

It looks to me like I'd have to pull more crap out of thin air to make Alcubierrebercrombiewhatever's drive work than to make mine work.

21. Originally Posted by EvilEye
In Carl Sagan's series COSMOS he showed schematics for a proposed nuclear powered ship that would go near lightspeed. (This was in the 80's)

He said (and explained how) that it could actually be built NOW (then), and it would really work, but the sheer size, and cost would prohibit it from ever happening.

And it would have to be built in space.

The question was
Pulling my well-worn Cosmos book from my shelf and looking up in the index what I remember being called Orion, I find:

"Today we have preliminary designs for ships to take people to the stars. None of these spacecraft is imagined to leave the Earth directly. Rather, they are constructed in Earth orbit from where they are launched on their long interstellar journeys. One of them was called Project Orion after the constellation, a reminder that the ship's ultimate objective was the stars. Orion was designed to utilize explosions of hydrogen bombs, nuclear weapons, against an intertial plate, each explosion providing a kind of 'put-put,' a vast nuclear motorboat in space. Orion seems entirely practical from an engineering point of view. By its very nature it would have produced vast quantities of radioactive debris, but for conscientious mission profiles only in the emptiness of interplanetary or interstellar space. Orion was under serious development in the United States until the signing of the international treaty that forbids the detonation of nuclear weapons in space. This seems to me a great pity. The Orion starship is the best use of nuclear weapons I can think of."

- Carl Sagan, Cosmos, (c) 1980

Cosmos was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. My dad gave the book to me as a Christmas present one year. And to think my ex-wife used to hate all my books and wondered why I kept them all. I'm going to go call her and let her know that even after 28 years a book can still come in handy! Apparently I've kept it all this time just for this post.

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Originally Posted by JanieBelle
Thanks Neverfly. No blood, no foul. If nothing else, you saved me even more frustration and time in continuing to search.

It looks to me like I'd have to pull more crap out of thin air to make Alcubierrebercrombiewhatever's drive work than to make mine work.
No problem - lesson learned to pip up sometimes.

However, the Alcubierre method is currently the "most viable" method. Even if you need a quantity of Unobtanium.

If you are looking to maintain Scientific Accuracy - that is the method you want to use.

23. Originally Posted by Neverfly
Even if you need a quantity of Unobtanium.

I thought, "hey, I don't remember no stinkin' elements called ... oh."

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JanieBelle,

Sounds like you are trying to build a FTL transporter. You might not want to try so hard, the more detail you give the easier it is to derail it.

The sad reality is that there is no current path to FTL travel/communication. If there was NASA would be going full bore to develop it! Alcubierre's drive is based on a bunch of maybes, most of which conflict with other physics. Quantum entanglement isn't much help either I'm afraid. It's a bit like a moving shadow, it can be FTL, but you can't really communicate with it. Though; I suspect, you may have more wiggle room there than with Alcubierre.

I have no idea how string theory fits into FTL

If your goal is as you stated you might want to stick to more concrete and defendable science. Consider what elements your story needs, does it really need FTL and/or matter transportation? Maybe you just need people at another planet or star system? Is the means of people getting into the environment important or simply the environment they are in?

Just offering things to consider here, it's your story and only you know the plot

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Think FIREFLY!

26. Well first, thanks for the continuing thoughts, I really do appreciate them.

I do need the FTL, as the underlying theme is the unchecked expansion of an Orwellian type empire, and most of the plot is hunt and chase.

I'd put off the details of the FTL drive thus far for reasons of flow, and I'm now at the point where I have to give some modicum of an explanation or ignore the point altogether. The original plan was actually to ignore the details, but as time went on I began to consider changing my mind for two reasons:

1. It began to feel like a cop-out. I felt that if I were to stand a chance of entertaining readers with any scientific literacy or any sci-fi experience, I was going to have to answer the inevitable question that would be nagging at them. "How'd she do that?"

2. Suppression of science by a ruling politico-religious body is a major part of the theme, and demonstrating the practical usefulness of science seems integral to contrasting the progress of science with the stagnation of theocracy.

As I mentioned, the drive doesn't have to necessarily be 100% feasible in reality, but again my novel, although as much social critique as science fiction, is geared toward the at-least-modestly-scientifically literate and so the drive should be plausible enough to be entertained and entertaining rather than detract from the story.

Now, all that said, I really, really liked the premise of my original idea both because the experiment which inspired it fascinates me and because that experiment was done by a woman, which serves to pour salt in the wound of the misogynistic bad guys.

Here's what I'm thinking at the moment. I can keep Dr. Hau's work in and use it for the transporter system (Yay!), and use whathisname's drive for the FTL. The major downside to this is that while I kind of had a layman's clue as to what Dr. Hau did, I'm really ignorant about the Abercrombieandfitch engine and the principles underlying it.

I'm all good in the paragraphs I quoted above from NASA right up to the part about the ring of negative energy. At that point, my eyes sort of rolled back in my head, and my tongue hung out and there might have been some unglamorous drooling involved. Complete. Mental. Shutdown.

(The twins paradox thing can kiss my butt. I'm not dealing with that at all.)

27. Originally Posted by Neverfly
Think FIREFLY!
I really LIKED Firefly, though I don't recall them talking about how the FTL drive worked before SOME JERK CANCELED IT!!!!111!!!!

I should have paid better attention to the details, I guess. I HATE when they cancel all the good shows, but mindless drivel goes on and on for years.

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Originally Posted by JanieBelle
Well first, thanks for the continuing thoughts, I really do appreciate them.

I do need the FTL, as the underlying theme is the unchecked expansion of an Orwellian type empire, and most of the plot is hunt and chase.

I'd put off the details of the FTL drive thus far for reasons of flow, and I'm now at the point where I have to give some modicum of an explanation or ignore the point altogether. The original plan was actually to ignore the details, but as time went on I began to consider changing my mind for two reasons:

1. It began to feel like a cop-out. I felt that if I were to stand a chance of entertaining readers with any scientific literacy or any sci-fi experience, I was going to have to answer the inevitable question that would be nagging at them. "How'd she do that?"

2. Suppression of science by a ruling politico-religious body is a major part of the theme, and demonstrating the practical usefulness of science seems integral to contrasting the progress of science with the stagnation of theocracy.

As I mentioned, the drive doesn't have to necessarily be 100% feasible in reality, but again my novel, although as much social critique as science fiction, is geared toward the at-least-modestly-scientifically literate and so the drive should be plausible enough to be entertained and entertaining rather than detract from the story.

Now, all that said, I really, really liked the premise of my original idea both because the experiment which inspired it fascinates me and because that experiment was done by a woman, which serves to pour salt in the wound of the misogynistic bad guys.

Here's what I'm thinking at the moment. I can keep Dr. Hau's work in and use it for the transporter system (Yay!), and use whathisname's drive for the FTL. The major downside to this is that while I kind of had a layman's clue as to what Dr. Hau did, I'm really ignorant about the Abercrombieandfitch engine and the principles underlying it.

I'm all good in the paragraphs I quoted above from NASA right up to the part about the ring of negative energy. At that point, my eyes sort of rolled back in my head, and my tongue hung out and there might have been some unglamorous drooling involved. Complete. Mental. Shutdown.

(The twins paradox thing can kiss my butt. I'm not dealing with that at all.)
If you have read Carl Sagan's "Contact" he struggled with a similar dilemma. He also chose the same route that you seem to have.

29. I am ashamed to admit that Contact is one of the very few movies I have seen but do not own the corresponding book. Although I remember that I enjoyed the movie, I don't recall much about it.

I'm not sure which dilemma (there are so many!) or which route you mean. About the twins paradox?

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Originally Posted by JanieBelle
I am ashamed to admit that Contact is one of the very few movies I have seen but do not own the corresponding book. Although I remember that I enjoyed the movie, I don't recall much about it.

I'm not sure which dilemma (there are so many!) or which route you mean. About the twins paradox?
About Faster than Light travel, and he chose to find the best applicable theory and explain it to the readers.
http://www.sff.net/people/brian_a_hopkins/ftl.htm
Carl Sagan asked some theoretical physicists for plausible methods of FTL travel when he was writing Contact. Among the team that worked on this problem was ...

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