A Conversation for Travelling to the Stars

fusion drives and antimatter

Post 1

xyroth

Why do you have to run it without causing a nuclear explosion. The orion spacecraft was designed many years ago to work using fission bombs, and is perfectly practical (as far as I'm aware) today. You can use the same techniques with fusion, or even better, you can use laser catalysed fusion, where you have a large number of lasers firing on an encapulated bulb of hydrogen, causing it to be compressed to the point of fusion. This takes place in a very small area. Both methods should work today, as will a number of others.
You also mention antimatter as a technology that doesn't work yet.
You are wrong. even today, physicists load positrons into magnetic bottles and move them between sites. The real problem is cherenckov radiation (for the crew that is), and the need to regenerate antimatter, or carry large amounts of it. both can be solved using todays technology. As all of the technologies you mention can never power planetary craft, most of the criticisms of most of them don't apply. Also your information about a manned mars mission is out of date. mars direct has been costed at 20 billion dollars using ten year old technology (and prices) and could give you a permenent colony within twenty years. it would pay for itself many times over, as space technology has always done.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 2

Mordac the Invincible (Lord of the Undead Chocolate Penguin Army)(Chief Toast Manufacturer)

umm alls im sayin is like if we could get some antimatter and put it in little cubes we could eat it and get high like the transformers man............ can you say maximus gonja trip man.......


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 3

Researcher Kristian

When it comes to antimatter, I think it should be thought of as a way
to store large amounts of energy. antimatter can be made from energy, so by placing large solar pannels relativly close to the sun, great amounts of amtimatter could be generated and stored. And could be used for growing food and provide a small constant accelaration for the craft.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 4

xyroth

there has now been proposed the valkyrie model of interstellar engine. this will use antimatter hydrogen slush generated on the moon, and using pull rather than push techniques will change the top speed from 10%c to 92%c making journeys to nearby stars possible in reasonable times within 50 years using nothing but currently forseeable technology. quite an improvement.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 5

Madame Sprots

I'm sorry I'm not as caught up as you...your saying that there HAS been people who have succesfully bottled antimatter? How long could they carry it for? And whats wrong with the radiation? Could you please provide me with more information about this? I agree with you that colonizing a world could/would pay for itself hundreds of times over, but I think that matter/antimatter is the best way to go. Any information would do please. Gracias.
~Live long and prosper


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 6

xyroth

research on antimatter as a propulsion technology is progressing nicely.

in the field of generation, they have already in one accellerator produced 10^12 anti-protons, which they then stored in an accellerator ring.

in the field of storage, there is already research which states what the maximum field strength needed for long term storage would be (with some evidence supporting this) and in another field, the latest generation of magnets have the possibility of going to 4 times this field strength.

If you go one step further, and combine the anti-protons with anti-electrons (positrons) to produce anti-hydrogen (which again has had some supportive experiments) then you can freeze it down to 3 or 4 degrees kelvin, and store it in a sperical bottle which doen't need a magnetic field, only a small electrostatic one. (this experinemt has already been done with hydrogen, and it works, so it is just a case of extending the technology to anti-hydrogen).

There are also suggestions for advanced anti-matter drives, which use no new theory, and little new technology, only new engineering.

not bad for a field which didn't exist 80 years ago.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 7

Madame Sprots

I'd say so too. Do you think that if you can get the anti-hydrogen to a temperature below the 3 or 4 degrees Kelvin (not that you can go much further, I know) that you wouldn't even need an electromagnetic feild? The problem that I see is keeping the anti-hydrogen at that temperature. You would need to have an incredibly good insulator for that, wouldn't you? And since we're talking about anti-hydrogen, we wouldn't need matter to produce the explosion, right? How would you go about getting the energy from it in the first place?


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 8

xyroth

if you take the anti-hydrogen down to that temperature, it becomes a slush, which you can stop from contacting the walls of a spherical storage vessel by the simple method of putting an electrostatic charge in the inside of the vessel. if you make it the same polarity, then the two will repel each other, and storage is no problem.

As for keeping it cool, the experiment has already been done with hydrogen slush, and it worked perfectly (for small amounts).

When they wanted to extract the hydrogen all they did was raised the temperature a little, and it turned into a conductive vapour, which they could move around using standard magnetic fields into a storage ring.

once in the ring, all you need to do to generate power is collide it with a hydrogen stream (although any matter would do) which you could collect using a buzzard collector on your spacecraft.

or you could just use your anti-proton collision drive directly, and that would give you thrust.

If you were to go one step further, and make use of a relatively new piece of theory involving mach's principle and "lorenze contractions"? then you would generate a field between yourself and normal spacetime giving you the equivelent of delayed inertia, giving you something like star trek's impulse drive.

Then things really get strange. smiley - silly


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 9

Madame Sprots

Star Trek's impulse drives are powered by slush deuterium at a temperature of 13.8K. The auxiliary tanks that can be found in the Battle Section of the ship are not loaded with this slush, but with a liquid form of their fuel. When they need to transfer the fuel from the main tank to aux. tanks, the raise the temperature until it can move freely and without major vibrations and turbulence.

Now, due to my lack of knowledge on these sensitive subjects, I wouldn't be surprised if half of this is made up. But do you think we could possibly adapt this to fit our systems? Our anti-hydrogen slushy could replace their deuterium slushy. When they want to get their power from the system, they put it through several different machines that in turn heat the slush up until they can cool it down and freeze it into pellet shaped objects. A pulsed fusion shock is created when making these pellets (the bigger they are the more energy your going to get) which in turn, I believe, creates a high energy plasma that push throgh more systems until it can be fed into a "driver coil assembly" that when in contact with the coils, it a) reduces the apparent mass of the spacecraft at its inner surface and b) "facilitates the slippage of the continuum past the space craft at its outer surface" (possibly the equivelent of your delayed inertia explanation???) Is this anything remotely what they have come up with and are expermenting with, or is this just bull? I thinkk that if possible, this would be the smartest system to use.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 10

xyroth

as star trek quite seriously makes as much effort as is compatable with being a good show to be scientifically accurate, it would not surprise me if some of this data from star trek was true.

however this data is about fusion drives, which can be powered using hydrogen collected using bussard ramjets.

matter/anti-matter works somewhat differently, and thus has different details.

As to the delayed inertia thing, there does appear to be a theoretical method of doing this sort of thing using mach's principle and lorenz contractions, so don't dismiss it yet.

smiley - tongueout


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 11

Madame Sprots

Ok, so we can't use Star Trek's impulse drive system for our matter anti-matter drives....at least not yet.....hmmmm....how big would the container and electrostatic feild have to be to house the anti-matter? I will assume it to be rather small, considering the fact that you don't need a lot of anti-matter to get the power you want. How big could the ship be when you have only the minimal amount of anti-matter? Enterprise's engines are huge (allowing for the differences in their system from ours)...I guess that would be the norm...but the ship is huge too...do you think that the size of the ship and the size of the engines have to be directly proportional?

Ha, maybe if I keep asking all these relatively stupid questions, and you keep on answering them (thank you for being patient!) we could just figure out what to do one day. smiley - rocket


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 12

xyroth

There is a relationship between ship size and engine size, but not same one that most people think.

Most of the "expense" interms of energy is because of the weight of the ship, which usually has to get a lot stronger as the engine size goes up.

However, this is using the "engines push" type model. If you replace it with and "engines pull" model like the designers of the valkyrie series of craft did, then you don't need the massive levels of structural support and you can immediately use a smaller engine for the same job. (usually a smaller everything else as well).

As to the size of the electrostatic containers, they are currently laboratory sized (as in they fit in a laboratory). I fully expect this size to come down a lot when lots of smaller labs start playing with antimatter, and thus need a supply that is not locally generated.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 13

Madame Sprots

Do you mean NASA makes(finds/collects) their own anti-matter when their scientists need it? And smaller labs meaning what? I never thoguht the contains would be that large, althoguh I expect them to get smaller too. Are they large to accomadate the electrostatic feild, or just to hold the anti-matter? I believed the container to be smaller, since you don't need that much anti-matter to get your power...you would need more for long trips, though...is the entire container filled with anti-matter? I dont' understand why it would take so much room.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 14

xyroth

most places that play with anti-matter generate it locally in their collider. given that the size of the detectors in most collider systems are massive, they don't see any reason not to have their anti-matter containers any smaller than they currently are. after all, if you can generate it, why not generate enough all at the same time, store it for later, and use it when you need to.

in the mean time, this leaves your collider free for other experiments.

As for transporting it, the current data that I have is that the containers are about the size of a small van.

When you get small labs working on it, they won't be able to afford their own collider (let alone get planing permission for it), so they will need to get it transported to them.

As far as I know, the containers are that big because the labs who can work with anti-matter at the moment would get bulk deliveries.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 15

Madame Sprots

Bulk delieveries, eh? Fasicinating....I don't suppose they would transport it in a van, considering the containers are van sized. Wouldn't it be dangerous to fly? Well, not much more than driving, I guess. You would still need an electrostatic field to hold it, right?


When the labs test for power or other things, wouldnt the explosion be huge enough for us to know about it? If they've been playing with it for awhile, what precautions would they be taking to not blow up themselves/other people? That would be a major concern in my book.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 16

xyroth

you are misunderstanding the term "power" in this sense.

tesing for power would be to see what percentage of energy you were getting out of your generator, not how big a bang you would get.

There would thus not be any "big" explosions.

As to what precautions, people have been playing with high energy particle systems (including nuclear) for long enough that they now know to design to fail safe.

as for transporting it in a van, you could easily mount a transit-van sized container on the back of an articulated lorry.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 17

Madame Sprots

My mistake. smiley - blush

As of now what is the largest amount of power that we can generate? And how long could we use it until we could run out?


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 18

xyroth

It wouldn't really be used that way.

Anti-matter as a power source would be used for spacecraft and other high-energy-density purposes. It enables you to cram an awfull lot of energy in very little space/mass.

Unfortunately, it takes energy to generate it. In fact it takes at least as much energy to generate as it releases when used.

Think of it more like incredibly powerfull batteries.

As to running out, as long as you have enough energy to generate it, you don't run out.

One suggestion for this technology would be to use orbital solar energy systems to produce anti-matter, which could then be used for exploration, and for earth based (relatively) clean energy generation (It does share with fusion the problem of low level contamination from radiation).

As to best current output, I don't have that information.


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 19

Madame Sprots

So do you mean the resulting energy produced when you put together matter and anti-matter isn't using up the anti-matter, but rather the energy comes from the "spark" you get when you combine the two?


fusion drives and antimatter

Post 20

xyroth

no, I mean that a matter/anti-matter reaction combines them to release exactly the energy involved in producing the particles, but getting it so you can produce the particles also takes energy.

so it always takes more energy than it releases.

contrast this with fusion or fission, where the act of generating energy results in an excess of energy from the initial amount that you had to put in to start the reaction.

anti-matter is a very compact and fairly clean energy source, but like electricity, you need a generator somewhere to produce it.


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