Warp Speed

Zeph slept into the late afternoon.  I went and awoke him, shaking him.  “Zeph, Zeph, we did it!  We constructed a stable warp field and went faster than light, or at least you did!.”

Zeph was very passed out from the night before.  I finally was able to awaken him.  “Dave, what happened?”

“Zeph, you broke the light limit!  We did it!”

“Oh, shit, my head hurts.  I dreamed of little, well full sized, green men with pointed ears.”

“Shit, Zeph, those were the Vulcans.  You really met them.  They saw our warp signature and landed to meet us.  You are going to be remembered forever.”

“Oh, shit, Dave, my head hurts.  What happened?”

“Well, between your mechanical engineering and my expertise in the chemistry of matter and antimatter, we pulled it off.  I always thought that your manifold would collapse before a stable warp field could be attained, but using two nacelles instead of one made the difference.  Dividing up the warp field into two equal parts worked.”

“Dave, I need something to drink.  I am thirsty!”

“Here, Zeph.  This is just water.  You need it more than whisky right now.”

After about a liter and a half of water, Zephrian Cochran was more lucid.  “We did pass the light barrier, didn’t we?  Did you enjoy the trip”?

“Well, you passed it.  I was not there.  Some folks that I did not recognize were with you.”

“Hhhhh?  You and Daisy were there, right?”

“No, you and someone named Riker and someone else named Jordy.”

“Nahhh, it was you and Daisy with me, I remember.”

“No, not us.  Them.  I have not seen either of them before or since, but they were in the craft with you.  I also have something else to tell you.”

“What?  Shit, do we have anything to drink?  I want some rye.”

“Zeph, you do not know what you just did.  YOU went faster than light, the first human to do so.  I was supposed to be there, but was not, but things seem to be OK.  Here is just a very light shot of rye.  You know that after this you will have to give up the sauce.”

“Give it up?  I live for it!  What else would I want?  The kudzu extract keeps my liver intact, so I can drink all that I want.”

“Zeph, things are different now.  We are out of the dark ages, and you did it.”

After taking several draughts of rye, Zepherin Cochran looked at me and said, “Dr. David W. Smith, without your expertise in creating and handling antimatter, this would have never been done.  I drink a toast to you!  How in the hell did you think of using a lithium crystal matrix to focus the stream’?

I took my glass of rye (and a big gulp of club soda) and told him, “Well, we had to have a very light mass, perfect crystal, to focus the matter and antimatter streams.  Actually, there are two lithium crystals.  One is matter, to focus the matter stream, and the other one is antimatter, to focus the antimatter stream.  Both of them had to be solid to act as lenses.  The trick was to contain the antilithium in a magnetic bubble.  But with the help of Wayne and John, we figured out a way that did not take too much energy.”

“Well, Dr. Smith, you did well!  We made warp 1.1, and the Vulcans saw it.  Let’s drink a toast!’

Zeph and I held up our glasses and toasted.  Then he went to the music box and started it again, the dance music that he had played to the Vulcans.  I got tired of it fast, and put in an ancient digital medium called, at the time a Compact Disc, with two tunes on it that I like very much.  The first was Bach, the Tacoddo in D minor, and the next was We Don’t get Fooled Again, by the Who, then an obscure band from the 1960s.

“Zeph, there is a better way to direct this energy.  I think that it is possible to balance matter and antimatter in a lithium matrix, if the energy balance is correct.  I know that protons and antiprotons want to collapse on each other, but if balanced with electrons and positrons just right, I thing that a stable material that could act as a lens for both matter and antimatter could be formed.  I would call it “dilithium”, since it would be both half matter and half antimatter.  We might be able to hit 2 or three times the speed of light if I could make some.”

“Dr. Dave, you need to think of a better way of expressing speed.  If you are right, we will be using thousands and millions of “c” to express our speed.  How about a scale like they use for earthquakes?”

I thought for a minute, and came up with what I called the “warp scale”.  It is pretty much logarithmic, and Warp 1 is exactly the speed of light.  Please note that this the most difficult velocity to maintain, because of relativistic concerns.  Because of the complexities of mathematics, my system or warp factors is based on the natural (Naperian) base of numbers known as “e”, otherwise approximated as 2.71828.  This makes the math work out better.  Thus warp 2 is e^2 times the speed of light, or about 6.7 times c.  Warp 3 is e^3, or about 20 times the speed of light.  Our little warp drive was only 1.1 times the speed of light, but that was important.

I took my figures to Dr. Toh Sung, and he verified them, but said that to get faster than warp 1.1 would be easier than to construct an artificial intelligence.  He allowed that it might happen, but neither of us would live to see it.  He is the best mathematician and physicist of our time, and occupies the chair that Newton and Hawking held at Oxford as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.  That was not any small feat.  I just had a feeling that he would do greater things afterwards, and that many great people would follow.

Well, my experiments were not without gain.  I did find a way to make a mixture of anti lithium and lithium become stable, but not without several accidents.  One takes one’s guard down when working hard, and I did.  I was working with the dilithium matrix one evening, and had just found how to make half a dozen of the matter and antimatter atoms become stable without putting extra energy into the matrix.  They actually form molecular crystals, and I have in my mind exactly the form of the energy diagrams in four space where they “live”, but it is actually six space, because of the strong and the weak nuclear interactions.  If not shocked, the matter/antimatter dilithium crystals are stable, and can focus antimatter and matter into a solid stream without any decomposition unless the streams entering are off target.

Oh, please do not allow anyone to fool you.  The optimum mix ratio of matter ant antimatter is unity, or 1:1.  If either is in excess, energy is lost to accelerating useless particles out of them.

I accept the antimatter slowly turning my left leg and arm into gamma.  I still have my right ones, and the physicians have done a good job with prostheses.  But our vessels can now travel at almost Warp 3.

Warmest regards,

Dr. David W. Smith,

Warp Chemist


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  1. warp speed?

    Warmest regards,


  2. At least I tried for something interesting.

    Warmest regards,


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