Date: 14 Mar 93 22:41:05 GMT Lazar's UFO drive mechanism seems highly improbable according

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From: violet.berkeley.edu!chalmers@scicom.AlphaCDC.COM Date: 14 Mar 93 22:41:05 GMT Message-ID: <35770@scicom.AlphaCDC.COM> Newsgroups: info.paranet From: chalmers@violet.berkeley.edu (John H. Chalmers Jr.) Lazar's UFO drive mechanism seems highly improbable according to current physics. While element 115 may eventually be synthesized, it is not expected to have any isotopes with half lifes longer than 10-2 to 1 second. Even the most stable superheavy elements are expected to have half-lives of the order of a few days maximum. The second problem is making 115. Current nuclear chemistry experiments have stalled around 109 or possibly 110 as the production rate gets too low. The problem is that such elements cannot be built up from lighter ones by successive neutron capture in reactors or in nature in supernovas because the fission half-lives around 94-100 become too short. Hence they have to be made by fusing heavy nuclei (U, Pu, or higher) with medium sized nuclei such as Ca, Fe, etc. To get such nuclei with their high electric charges to fuse requires so much energy that the compound nucleus fissions before it can evaporate enough neutrons to deexcite to a stable state. Finally, there is no reason to believe that 116 would decay into antimatter. The total kinetic energy released by the fission of a nucleus of 116 is estimated to be about 250 to 300 MEV. An antiproton or antineutron has a mass of about 940 MEV with the positron or antielectron about 1/1800 of this. So even assuming there was a plausible route not violating any known conservation laws, there is not enough energy in the decay of superheavy nuclei to generate atoms of antimatter. Also, Lazar's physics is suspect. While some theories predict that gravity and the strong nuclear force are aspects of the same force, the energy level of unification, the point at which they become indistinguishable, is about 10 to the 15th GEV. Current accelerators are <= about 1000 GEV, far above the energies available in atomic nuclei. With our technology, scaling up by a factor of 10 to the 12th would mean building a machine whose circumference is about that of the Milky Way galaxy. If we had access to a technology that could reduce this scale to vehicular dimensions, do you really think we would even consider building something as primitive as the SSC. Gravitons are not out of vogue theoretically, but they have never been observed due to the weakness of their interaction with matter. If the LIGO or similar gravitational wave observatories are built, they will provide the first direct evidence for gravitons or rather the wave-like aspect of gravitational radiation, which is equivalent to the particle aspect by the Correspondence Principle. Gravitation is about 39 orders of magnitude weaker than the strong nuclear force so even though the SNF may have gravity-like properties, they are unobservable even at nuclear energies. Antimatter per se has not yet been made in the laboratory although both positrons and antiprotons are made routinely in accelerators and stored. The difficulty lies in cooling both components down sufficiently and mixing them to produce antihydrogen while still confining them and the resulting neutral atoms. It should be doable and I would expect the announcement to be made at any time. However, these experiments will produce only a few atoms at a time, nowhere near enough for bombs or space vehicle fuel. Lazar is correct that fission and fusion bombs release only a very small fraction of the total available energy. The problem here is confinement; the bombs destroy themselves and the density of fissionable and fusionable materials drop too low for the reactions to procede. Similar problems would exist with matter -antimatter reactions as well. It has been predicted that matter and antimatter stars might just bounce off each other as the annihilation energy released as their outer atmospheres touched would push them apart before more than a fraction of their masses had been consumed. They might, however, be sufficiently disrupted by the shock and acceleration that their cores would be exposed, producing two novas. In any case, the collision would be spectacular, even if it did not result in mutual annihilation. Even if one could 'distort space time' what is to prevent the distortion from affecting the vehicle and its crew? There might very well be strong gravitational tidal effects which would destroy both in the process as a space-time distortion would look like a very strong and inhomogeneous gravitational field. Creating and terminating such 'distortions' would probably generate gravitational radiation. Such strong fields might also create Hawking radiation and be visible to outsiders, if not lethal to the crew. 'Worm holes,' which might be what Lazar means by these distortions, might very well actually be longer and slower routes. Lazar needs to think this one through further. It is difficult to design a gravitational wave amplifier as it would require a source of energy to power a gravitational wave generator that could respond to incoming GW's and draw on this energy to generate new waves of increased amplitude. Perhaps orbiting black holes might contract their orbits in response to a passing GW and generate a stronger replica wave if the phases were right. If the black holes were electrically charged, then perhaps electrical energy could be converted to GW's. There are some severe technical constraints, however. Are there any engineer/physicists out there who want to try designing a GW amplifier? -- John

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