As far as faster than light travel goes, the math has been worked out (one of my friends is an engineer for NASA), and it's surprisingly similar to that of Star Trek. The problem is power generation. We don't have anything even close to the tech needed to produce the necessary amount of power to make it work.
Which means we can't do it - right now. So far, we can say that an Alcubierre-White warp is theoretically possible; when NASA gets the testbed done, we'll find out if it's actually possible; once we reach that stage, it's a matter of engineering. One of the scientists working on the testbed is fond of pointing out that the very first atomic fission pile, built by a team led by Enrico Fermi and employing a squash court at the University of Chicago, produced approximately half a watt of power; within a couple of years, the first four-megawatt plant came online. Once the engineers know something can be done, they like to figure out how it will be done.
"Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!" - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
Actually yes, I am an engineer and I will prove it by describing a RW activation of one of Star Trek's warp cores:
As matter and antimatter fall/ rise towards each other they are supposed to "intermix" through a dilithium assembly. Instead the antimatter reacts with everything not shielded by a magnetic field and blows the engineering hull to bits.
Lets say for the sake of argument that a stable matter antimatter reaction was achieved: The vertical warp core means that the plasma will splay out in a disc pattern from the "intermix" point, highly inefficient and most likely resulting in another lost engineering hull.
Lets say we got that covered somehow (Strong in the engineering I may be, but not that strong) the plasma flows along the ODN conduits until it hits the first bend. Then you have plasma streaming from a hole in the side of your engineering hull
OK, pencil whip that: The plasma reaches the warp nacelle and we pencil whip another 90 degree turn and the warp coils generate the warp field. Only problem is the plasma streaming from the backs of the warp nacelles it blew off because there are no exhaust ports.
The described failure of NASA scientists to recreate the Saturn V Rocket occurred recently as the shuttle has reached the end of it's Op life and they were desperate for anything and unable to actually come up with anything.
A wheel space station is merely a continuous suspension bridge and very easy to construct. In the 60's they had an Inflatable one!!! When cornered at a press conference on the issue of no rotation, the NASA scientists in charge of the ISS looked confused for a moment like he didn't think of that and then said, "cost." Too bad for him that shuttles docking could impart rotation energy and spin it up for free.
Also the CERN collider is a very simple toy that if damaged would just not work. It will not explode. It will not open a black hole into another dimension. It accelerates high energy particles and smashes them against a target.
I find it infinitely amusing that all the things they were scared of in the 60's are the things that could save human civilization: Robots taking over and reengineered humans.
Read some Neil Asher, he has this wonderful Polity that is run by AIs because no human can be trusted with all that power.
Mad Max here we come!
Last edited by thlaylierah; 02-26-2013 at 12:42 AM.