Going faster than light is impossible as we understand the universe. It is the ultimate limit of our environment. A warp drive is defined as a way to manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. Basically the starship would be enclosed in a bubble outside our normal space time where higher speeds can be achieved. To arrive the bubble is removed allowing the starship to surface in our normal space time. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, however subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy. New calculations suggest a much lower energy requirement. The Alcubierre drive is a speculative idea based on a valid solution of the Einstein field equations as proposed by Miguel Alcubierre by which a spacecraft might achieve faster-than-light travel, making travel to other stars a possibility. It should be understood that this is different from a ship actually exceeding the speed of light within its local frame of reference. Rather, the ship would traverse distances due to the expansion and contraction of space behind and before the ship, respectively. ”Perhaps a Star Trek experience within our lifetime is not such a remote possibility.” These are the words of Dr. Harold “Sonny” White, the Advanced Propulsion Theme Lead for the NASA Engineering Directorate. Dr. White and his colleagues don’t just believe a real life warp drive is theoretically possible; they’ve already started the work to create one. ”There is hope,” Harold “Sonny” White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center said on September 14th) at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the challenges of interstellar spaceflight. Working at NASA Eagleworks, Dr. White’s team is trying to find proof of those loopholes. They have “initiated an interferometer test bed that will try to generate and detect a microscopic instance of a little warp bubble” using an instrument called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer. By creating one of these warp bubbles, the spaceship’s engine will compress the space ahead and expand the space behind, moving it to another place without actually moving, and carrying none of the adverse effects of other travel methods. According to Dr. White, “by harnessing the physics of cosmic inflation, future spaceships crafted to satisfy the laws of these mathematical equations may actually be able to get somewhere unthinkably fast—and without adverse effects.” Whatever it may be called, the frontier of interstellar travel is close by us.
Blog post courtesy of ENN’s Andy Soos