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Physicist Expects Near-Lightspeed Spaceflight This Century

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, noted physicist Dr. Franklin Felber will present his new exact solution of Einstein’s 90-year-old gravitational field equation to the Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF) in Albuquerque. The solution is the first that accounts for masses moving near the speed of light.

Felber’s antigravity discovery solves the two greatest engineering challenges to space travel near the speed of light: identifying an energy source capable of producing the acceleration; and limiting stresses on humans and equipment during rapid acceleration.

“Dr. Felber’s research will revolutionize space flight mechanics by offering an entirely new way to send spacecraft into flight,” said Dr. Eric Davis, Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin and STAIF peer reviewer of Felber’s work. “His rigorously tested and truly unique thinking has taken us a huge step forward in making near-speed-of-light space travel safe, possible, and much less costly.”

The field equation of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity has never before been solved to calculate the gravitational field of a mass moving close to the speed of light. Felber’s research shows that any mass moving faster than 57.7 percent of the speed of light will gravitationally repel other masses lying within a narrow ‘antigravity beam’ in front of it. The closer a mass gets to the speed of light, the stronger its ‘antigravity beam’ becomes.

Felber’s calculations show how to use the repulsion of a body speeding through space to provide the enormous energy needed to accelerate massive payloads quickly with negligible stress. The new solution of Einstein’s field equation shows that the payload would ‘fall weightlessly’ in an antigravity beam even as it was accelerated close to the speed of light.

Accelerating a 1-ton payload to 90 percent of the speed of light requires an energy of at least 30 billion tons of TNT. In the ‘antigravity beam’ of a speeding star, a payload would draw its energy from the antigravity force of the much more massive star. In effect, the payload would be hitching a ride on a star.

“Based on this research, I expect a mission to accelerate a massive payload to a ‘good fraction of light speed’ will be launched before the end of this century,” said Dr. Felber…

Published in researchmaterial

12 Comments

  1. Jesus. I don’t know where anyone can buy 30 billion tons of TNT… at least not in Minneapolis, and not on the weekends.

  2. Down side:

    A one ton object hitting a planet at 90% of the speed of light would make a real mess. If it can be done easily, the Galactic Empire might consist of lots of deep-space habitats and dead worlds.

  3. Chris Chris

    Is it my imagination, or does that sound a lot like Heinlein’s “Light-Pressure Drive” from Lazarus’s Children?

  4. z3r0n3 z3r0n3

    I can actually envision this process. Think of a bullet at high velocity, the air ahead of it is added into the flow of air around it. It’s more like making a hole in front of you from intense force than antigravity.

  5. What worries me is that we’ll wind up calling whatever space-drive results from this the “Felber Drive.” How uninspiring.

  6. Hm, time to bring out the Physics Mallet…the problem is getting ahold of a mass that is, relative to you, moving at .6c. If there was one around we would probably have noticed…and if we were to make one, we’d have the problem of getting enough mass going that fast, plus the problem of keeping it around once we’ve made it (since we still have to pay the energy costs of accelerating the big mass).

    The only way I can think we could do it would be to find a pet black hole and put another black hole in a very tight orbit around it (which would also be a great way to communicate across interstellar distances, with modulated gravity waves), but I’m still hesitant because an orbital solution is completely different from a flat-space solution.

    The original paper is here as a PDF or postscript file (only 4 pages). And I just spotted a big caveat — the paper gives Dr. Felber’s affiliation as “Starmark Inc” — according to the National Academy of Sciences, he’s a VP of that company. Starmark is also the name on that news release, so this could well be a vanity press release.

    Anyway, on first read-through of the paper, I’m skeptical. It’s all done as weak-field approximation, which is a legitimate tool (although at variance with the release’s claim of a more-desirable “exact solution”)…especially since at the end of the paper he brings in the strong-field effect from out of, as far as I can tell, nowhere.

    Ah. In the second-last paragraph he notes the same thing I did earlier: it’s a bastard to find a fast-moving black hole, although the reason he gives for it (“due to drag”) is pure BS.

    But after a bit more examination, I suspect that, if you *could* get all the pieces together — including the part where the payload gets within three Schwarzschild radii of the black hole and yet still doesn’t experience tides that turn it into spaghetti — it might work. The metric he proposes for the moving black hole is quadrupolar, and it’s been known (although considered a curiosity) for about a year that quadrupole metrics can, under certain circumstances, have repulsive-gravity effects.

    So I dunno. But it would be nice.

  7. LamontCranston LamontCranston

    pfft, Project Orion from the 1950s would have already had a manned space ship to Alpha Centauri by now, and I’m not talking some little dinky Apollo or Shuttle sized craft, I’m talking something the size of the freakin’ Enterprise, and probably massing a whole lot more too, so we would have had a bit of fallout to deal with each time one was launched, big deal!

  8. so, even if this would work, getting the parts together is so far beyond the current ability of mankind that it renders the whole thing absolutely useless. ignobel, anyone?

  9. Chris George Chris George

    Don’t understand why everyone is slagging the idea off; it is the nearest thing all you starwars?Arthur C Clarke fanboys have got a stiffy over for the last ten years but in reality. Personally I don’t think his predictions are quite right in respect of time scale but it sounds very interesting – I await the scientific community’s reaction.

  10. Definitely a great mathematics exercise, but like too many academics he is getting too deep into theory without keeping an eye on the practical. Keep watching for more breakthroughs to come. The time is right look back over history, every hundred years we make a big step Einstein’s was 100 years ago so the next big one is due.

  11. Santiago (Spain) Santiago (Spain)

    The first airplane flew at Kitty Hawk for just 12 seconds in 1903. One houndred years later, we flew the X-33 at Mach 11 (I think) somewhere in California, while the Airbus 380, capable of carrying 800 people, took off in France. It would be quite non-sensical to think this amazing progression is suddenly going to stop and flying at 60% fo light speed will indeed happen at some point. Throughout history we’ve experiences several technological leaps and it seems clear our space travel adventure is needing yet another one. Just like an infant suddenly goes from crawling to walking, mankind is naturally about to start walking those great distances. The power needed to fuel these type of journeys is all over the place throughout the universe. Much like a toddler is surrounded by cars he can’t yet drive, mankind is surrounded by ideas (like Felber’s) and resources (like the sun) which hold the key to this next voyage.

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