The Halo Drive

Blog Post Number 9 Written: 05-23-2021 Uploaded” 03-19-2022

To be clear, this is not my idea, this is a real scientific theory, developed by serious people with far more qualifications than me, and has nothing to do with the halo franchise of video games and novels. This is a real-world proposal for interstellar travel.

As I like science stuff, I’ll try and give you a layman’s terms explanation, but first, in order to explain how it works, and thus to illustrate why it’s called a halo drive, we need to understand a little bit about orbital mechanics.

Do you know how orbital mechanics work? Yeah… me neither. Math hinders my understanding of science. I am a visual person, so let me use a little of my writer stuff to try and help everyone visualize what we are talking about.

All objects with mass, generate gravity. Gravity as we should all know is a force that attracts objects towards each other. The best visual description I have for this is a bed. Picture a nice big soft, pillow-top king-size bed, with a crisp new fitted sheet, stretched over it, very tight and flat so you can bounce a quarter off of it just like your parents used to make you do.

Now we’re going to drop a bowling ball, a golf ball, and a baseball onto this big soft bed. The weight of those balls is going to sink into the mattress and make dents, the bowling ball, having more mass will cause a bigger dent than the golf ball which having less mass, generates less gravity so it creates a smaller ripple in the interstellar medium, represented by the mattress in this case. Now we take a marble. But instead of putting the marble at rest on the mattress, we roll it. Imparting a vector upon the smaller mass of our marble. As the marble passes close to one of the other objects on the mattress for example the baseball, it will get pulled into the dent created by the mass of the larger ball, much like the moon falling into the earth’s gravity well, the marble will be pulled towards the baseball. But with the correct angular momentum instead of rolling down the slope and touching the baseball, it will roll around the edge of the divot, much like water circling the drain of a sink. This is essentially how an orbit works. An object of smaller mass falls towards an object of larger mass, but also has a velocity vector at a 90-degree angle to the direction of the gravity, and the two vectors are of appropriate values to cancel each other out, so instead the smaller object is in a state of perpetual free fall, falling around the more massive object, like the water circling the drain, or the marble rolling around the rim of the baseballs crater. In order to orbit a more massive object and achieve the same effect, for example, to roll the marble around the bowling ball instead of the baseball, the marble would have to be traveling at a much greater speed or be at a greater distance, in order to equalize with the bowling ball’s heavier gravity.

So the important factors in an orbit are the mass of the two objects in question, the distance between these two objects, and their speeds relative to each other. Because if you balance these things just right, you can enter the aforementioned state of free fall around the object, and never actually touch it, that’s how orbits are created, the planets around the sun, the moons around the planets, the satellites around earth, etc, I don’t want to get too complex with this, otherwise, we’ll have to start talking about bouncing off atmospheres and retrograde orbits and so on, and that’s beyond the scope of what I am trying to illustrate here.

These gravity wells around massive objects like Jupiter or the bowling ball on the mattress can be used to both accelerate and change the direction of objects traveling through space. Like the Voyager probes from the ’70s (which are both still functional and transmitting, as of this writing.) If your speed is sufficient to enter and escape the gravity well of the more massive object, like Jupiter or the bowling ball, you may actually accelerate as the larger object imparts moment on the smaller one, though this also will change the trajectory of the object, that too can be calculated and planned for. Another example besides the Voyager probes would be the planned but never executed Apollo mission to Mars. In a post lunar space age NASA was considering using leftover Apollo hardware to send men to Mars and was actually faster to launch the men towards Venus. Venus being closer to the sun than Mars, was easier to get to, so you could use less fuel and carry more payload to get to Venus than a direct flight to mars. You follow me so far? It’s easier to get to Venus instead of Mars because then you have the sun’s gravity helping you, instead of pulling against you. Once at Venus, the Apollo system could then ‘slingshot’ around Venus, as I described earlier to both change direction and increase speed by skirting around the inside of Venus’s gravity well and upon coming out the other side be heading on an intercept trajectory with Mars, at a greater speed than when they were launched from earth, and even though they were initially launched in the opposite direction, you could get to Mars faster that way and have to spend less rocket fuel, therefore with the same weight rocket, you could carry more mass for supplies and science stuffs. I know that’s counterintuitive, but such is the world of orbital mechanics. I guess the whole point to that rant was to explain how orbits are possible, in order to explain that it is possible to both increase speed and change direction of an object by skimming the outer edge of a larger objects gravity well, like the marble circling the bowling ball’s dent in the top of the mattress.

I realise that was kinda convoluted, but you still with me? Because now is the part where it gets kinda sketchy… because of black holes.

            We know that the gravity of black holes is soo strong that even light can’t escape, and that’s why they’re black because they eat the light. In concept they’re easy to explain, you just have to pack the matter of an object so dense that the speed of their gravitational acceleration exceeds the speed of light, sounds easy, but to illustrate the difference in magnitude earth’s gravitational acceleration is 9.8 meters per second, and the speed of light is just under three hundred million meters per second, but that’s a different realm of math, and not relevant to this either. The point is, light at a sufficient distance from a black hole, will not be eaten by a black hole. But its trajectory can be altered by the black hole, yes, literally bending light, and the black hole’s gravity can even be used to blueshift the light. it doesn’t accelerate the light, because you cant surpass the speed of light, but it can theoretically blue shift and increase the intensity of said light.

            Now, what if we propelled our spaceship with lasers? Yes, that’s a thing too, experiments have been done, it’s been proven possible, to shoot a beam of light from one object to another, like say a satellite, to another satellite, or from the earth’s surface to a satellite in orbit. But that requires two objects, one of which already being there. If you correctly use a black hole and shoot a laser from your spaceship near the black hole, the black hole can bend the laser’s light all the way around the black hole and back at your spaceship. So you can shoot yourself with a laser. And no I don’t mean armor melting high power lasers, I mean simple light spectrum lasers. And you can then impart thrust upon yourself, twice. Both in the act of shooting the laser, and hitting your own light receptor with the laser. And because of the blue-shifted increased light intensity, it would be even more powerful coming around the other side, it’s literally free power. I don’t want to confuse myself with the math, or anyone else. But the long and short of it is, using the gravity well of a black hole, to bend and accelerate light, to shoot yourself with a laser to make your ship go faster. And that’s why it’s called a halo drive because there would be a ring of light, a halo, all the way around the black hole from your ship, right back to your ship. And in theory, this could be one of the fastest most efficient ways to accelerate a spaceship, because it doesn’t require traditional chemical rocket fuel. Not my idea and if you want to know more I suggest you look it up for yourself. Just wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention, because it’s one of the many cool ideas that gets free real estate inside my brain. All it requires is a black hole, easy right? It’s not even hard to make black holes, all you have to do is pack matter so dense that its gravitational acceleration exceeds that of the speed of light. Have a good night, I’ll let that one settle on its own, I have some math to go think at and tell myself I understand because “SCIENCE!”

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll see you out there.

Published by chacerandolph

Science fiction author and Avionics Technician

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