The internet was amazed by images of the world's first warpship recently, and if you're wondering how science got past the fiction so quickly, remember how Leonardo is credited with inventing the helicopter? Despite not knowing any of the relevant aerodynamics, physics, engineering, or having any of the required skills other than "able to draw a pretty picture"? It's the same deal.
Dr Richard Obousy recently gifted the Discovery channel with designs for the first "warpship", and in return they gave him more publicity than you can shake a physics consulting firm at. Did you know Dr Obousy has a consulting firm? You do now! Despite containing about as many actual scientific systems as the average Buck Rogers prop, the image circulated the internet because
a) It looks really cool
b) Complete with circular-spinny bits just like in the new Star Trek movie
c) Real Science Credibility (TM) added by throwing around words like "Dark Energy"!
The idea that dark energy (still unobserved) had a key role in inflating the universe is real science, and the idea of using harnessed dark matter to squeeze and stretch space before and behind the ship (thereby sidestepping the universe's speed limit - because the ship itself isn't moving faster than light) is brilliant fun, but there are an awful lot of steps between "Coming up with a scientific idea" and "designing a cool-looking hull." ALL the steps, actually.
The idea is fun, and Dr Obousy is a real scientist of not inconsiderable repute, but the "design" is a public relations scam of the highest order - and we mean that in a complimentary way, because it worked fantastically. But when even the designer confesses in interviews that he has no idea what would go inside the ship, and mentions how it would have to eat Jupiter to run, it's not exactly NASA-grade. "A pretty picture and some relevant but not actually applied words" is more science fair grade.
Posted by Luke McKinney.
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