A chain of thoughts occurred to me and I'm wondering what yall think: A show on the History Channel (I think) was talking about conspiracy theories behind the Nazis and then the U.S. Air Force secretly developing flying saucers, apparently just for the damned sake of making an aircraft with a circular wing platform, which, as one about to graduate with an Aerospace Engineering degree, I can say is just about worthless for subsonic flight (aspect ratio is extremely low) and crap for supersonic flight (a blunt leading edge would make a lot of drag and sonic boom at those speeds). So, for a while I was thinking, why the hell would anyone, let alone any alien species, make a saucer-shaped craft? In what way would it actually make sense? Another thought occurred to me that I looked up and, sure enough has a bit of validity according to some: http://euclid.colorado.edu/~ellis/RelativityPapers/WaDrAnGr.pdf The idea is that, well, if a warp drive can shrink and expand space in front of and behind a spacecraft, respectively, and a mass the size of earth can shrink space below us just a little bit (gravity), wouldn't a correctly-oriented warp drive be usable as an anti gravity device? This would be extremely elegant for a spacecraft: a single propulsion system doing just about everything. No need for extra thrusters or anything, just a warp drive, and a power source, and that would get you to a planet, poke around a bit, land, mark "___ was here!", take off with a couple cows, and go home. So on thinking of that, I thought about all those pics of how a warp drive is supposed to work: http://www.naznet.com/community/attachment.php?attachmentid=23410&stc=1&d=1237508894 Notice how the ship is inside a very clean, uniform bubble of undistorted space wrapped by sharply warped space? Somehow, I doubt a warp drive would actually make such a clean, nice warp field like this. If the field is anything like any gravity field, magnetic field, whatever, there would probably be at least some distortions very near to the engine itself, putting undue stresses on the spacecraft's structure and such. I'm sure there will be ways to delay the warping of space till a certain point away from the warp drive, but nevertheless, the idea of a perfect warp field like this goes against instincts: the warp field will probably be just slightly screwed up as a best-case scenario, and if you're warping the crap out of space to go many dozens of times the speed of light, this slight amount of warping might become a significant concern to the spacecraft and it's inhabitants. To mitigate this, I figure there might be two options: 1. Integrate many tiny warp drives into the spacecraft, and activate them all such that, when their fields interact with each other, the spacecraft is in a relatively undistorted field, but the net affect of the tiny warp cores would still warp space a good distance outside the craft. 2. To make a simpler craft, have just one warp drive, but design the craft to fit snugly in whatever undisturbed space exists near the drive. And idea #2 is where the idea of a flying saucer looks pretty damned interesting. If a single warp drive had a limited area of weakly-disturbed space, say, a disk-like region circumventing the drive, why not build the spacecraft in there? This would make for a flying saucer whose engine is placed right in the center of the craft and oriented vertically, so that "up" is the direction of travel. In a gravity field, "up" would also be the direction the drive would need to be to counter gravity, so it works out kinda conveniently to where the bottom of the craft is always oriented downward when in a gravity field (hovering around in a planet's atmosphere). This makes for a spacecraft with a single warp drive doing everything, and whose construction is such that the ship's mass is just around the nicer regions of the warp drive's warp field. True, a saucer flying in the "up" direction in an atmosphere isn't exactly aerodynamic, but who knows, if it's warping through atmosphere, maybe aerodynamics are totally irrelevant? Also, a flat ship would land nicely and not be knocked over so well by wind or whatever as opposed to a tall, rocket-like configuration. I dunno, whadaya think?