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Before I start going into utter craziness about how warp drive works on star trek, first I should probebly explain what warp drive is and how it affects space.

On that note, you must first understand how SPACE works before you can understand how to warp it. Albert Einstein thought up the modern concept of space when he developed his theories on how physics worked when dealing with strange concepts like gravity or light. Einstein believed that space could be looked at like a fabric that has been pulled taught and so it was uniform in nature, a flat surface. Obviously, the universe is not flat, it is 3-dimentional, but Einstein felt that this idea was the best way to explain the dimention of space that we inhabit (in Star Trek, this is referred to as the space-time continuum). He felt that gravity could be explained by the way it affects the “fabric” of space rather than how gravity affects individual objects.

Gravity, in the idea of the fabric, would be like placing a weight on the fabric. Invariably, the weight would sink. This sinking into the fabric is how massive objects affect the spacetime continuum. If you were to roll a ball bearing across the fabric in the general direction of the weight, the sinking affect will catch the ball as it rolls, this would be like being caught in the massive objects gravity well. As the ball rolls around the weight, it is orbiting the weight. Eventually, it will stop against the object, and occupy the same relative space. This is known to scientists as “accretion,” and an example can be anything from a black hole sucking in another star to two planets crashing into each other to form a larger one or asteroids coming together to form planetoids or an asteroid striking a planets surface.

As objects become more massive (either by increasing mass and/or density), they sink deeper into the spacetime fabric, causing more gravitational pull. Einstein felt that this is how our dimention of space worked. The reason it is called “spacetime” is because it didn’t take scientists long to figure out that time is also affected by gravity when they put Einstein’s theories to the test.

Time, though it is linear and travels only in one direction (that we know of), does move in different speeds relative to gravity. For example, if you were to place a clock on a satellite, and match it with a clock on the surface of Earth, the clock orbiting would move faster than the one on Earth. Time itself does not change, for example you could not measure a space minute and call it 45 earth seconds, but simply our perception of time changing as a result of gravity when we observe it from outside. If you were on the spaceship, it would be more like the clock on earth would be moving slower, rather than yours moving faster. Either way, a minute is still a minute. 
If it confuses the hell out of you (like it does me), don’t worry, it’s not important. Scientists, with all their calculations, experiements, and theories, don’t really get it either. The question they are attempting to answer is whether it is actually gravity that causes “time-dilation” (the changes in perceptive speed), or if it is gravities affect on the spacetime fabric. And if so, how can we understand why this happens?

Very crazy stuff if you ask me!

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  1. By Warp What? « Mtblillie's Blog on 21 Dec 2009 at 9:53 pm

    […] tugs on to make objects with mass come together (if you would like more information on that post, click here). The concept of warp drive can be looked at in a similar way. Although Albert Einstein never […]

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