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Re: starship-design: ftl, gravity, etc.

> When people thought the sound barrier couldn't be broken, what they
> specifically meant was that they didn't think it could be broken by
> conventional aircraft. 

Correct. The tip of a whip can exceed the speed of sound as well. (just an
interesting tidbit)
> So far, though, there are no real-life examples of FTL and while
> physical theory has come tantalizingly close to allowing for FTL there's
> always something that prevents it.  Real, working FTL would overturn a
> big chunk of physics.

As far as I can see, there are two problems with finding FTL effects:

1. We don't know where to start from
2. Few want to accept that it might be possible

The first problem is hard to overcome. There are some effects where FTL
does occur, but not in the sense required for transfer of information. It
is FTL...just a useless form of it. EPR effect being one example, which I
know Steve knows about. There was some work done on this subject a few
years ago by Gunter Nimtz and another, whose name I don't recall at the
moment, in Germany, and Professor Raymond Chaio here in the USA. Chaio's
was easy to explain...it was just phase velocity. Nimtz's was peculiar, in
that a signal was propagated along with it, apparently faster than light.
The signal was a bad choice though: music. The rise time is so slow for
music, that it was impossible to tell whether it really went FTL or not
over the distance used (a few centimeters). To this day we don't know if
Nimtz had FTL information transfer or not. I think it is worth trying to do
again, with a better signal source. 

The second problem is one which so unscientific it should never have
happened. Nevertheless, it did, because humans are involved. We all have
prejudices and get set in our ways. I know I do. It's not easy to change
your way of thinking. Luckily, today's scientific community is becoming
more open minded, and has taken a renewed interest in such things as FTL.
But there are still those who are adamantly against it. A quote in a
magazine concerning Nimtz's results was pretty shocking to me "It must be a
mistake. It's like saying Australia never existed." That's not a mature
attitude. A better statement would be this: "Nimtz's results are
interesting. I am not convinced, but we should replicate this, and commence
further testing."

Opinion: Don't send music. Send a pulse, of duration less than the time it
takes light to cross the distance at hand.

Sorry about the tangent.
--Kyle R. Mcallister