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Space & Astronomy

Real-life warp drive may actually be possible

By T.K. Randall
September 25, 2019 · Comment icon 26 comments

Star Trek may have had it right all along. Image Credit: NASA / Mark Rademaker
A concept for a faster-than-light drive that does not violate the laws of physics has been gaining momentum.
Right now the idea of traveling to planets orbiting distant stars is something that we can only dream about - even a spacecraft moving at just under the speed of light would take four years to reach the next closest star and over two million years to reach the next nearest galaxy.

The problem is that the laws of physics would seem to prohibit the possibility of anything traveling faster than the speed of light, making long distance space journeys impractical.

But what if there was a way to bypass this limitation ?

Enter warp drive - a concept that, as it turns out, is not solely limited to the Star Trek franchise.

At this year's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Propulsion and Energy Forum, undergraduate engineer Joseph Agnew put forward the notion that warp drive might actually be possible and that it can work without violating the laws of physics.

His research was based on an existing concept known as Alcubierre Warp Drive which has been gaining some traction in recent years, even though it is purely theoretical at the moment.
According to the theory, this real-world warp drive would work by stretching the fabric of space-time in a wave, contracting the space in front of the ship and expanding the space behind.

A spacecraft riding this wave could effectively ride the 'warp bubble' and reach speeds far exceeding the speed of light. Because the ship is not actually moving through space-time (but is in fact moving space-time itself), it would not be subject to the negative effects of traveling at relativistic speeds.

Interestingly, the recent discovery of gravitational waves has bolstered this concept because it confirms a prediction that Einstein made and proves that the basis for warp drive actually exists.

"In the past 5-10 years or so, there has been a lot of excellent progress along the lines of predicting the anticipated effects of the drive, determining how one might bring it into existence, reinforcing fundamental assumptions and concepts, and, my personal favorite, ways to test the theory in a laboratory," said Agnew.

"The LIGO discovery a few years back was, in my opinion, a huge leap forward in science, since it proved, experimentally, that spacetime can 'warp' and bend in the presence of enormous gravitational fields, and this is propagated out across the Universe in a way that we can measure."

Whether it will ultimately be possible to actually build such a drive however remains to be seen.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (26)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Manwon Lender 4 years ago
That is correct by today's standards, but folding space time as outlined in Ensteines theories of both General and Special relativity may be possible. The process is known as a Wormhole, according to Enstein this may be possible, with the ability to create a Wormhole who needs Warp Drive. Even though the possibility of Warp Drive is looking more possible every year.
Comment icon #18 Posted by DingoLingo 4 years ago
hmmm on that I read a sci fi series.. cannot remember what it was called now.. they had that in there for the same reason.. you could only jump from outside the solar system.. insystem you used a different propulsion drive.. 
Comment icon #19 Posted by joc 4 years ago
The possibility of Warp Drive is a Sci Fi dream that has no actual bearing on anything anyone in today's Space Race is actually doing.  It will never happen.  It cannot happen.  It's a Sci Fi fantasy...nothing more...nothing less.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Black Red Devil 4 years ago
Interesting, I heard such a drive would allow us to get to Alpha Centauri, which is 4 light years away, within weeks.  I wonder if people in the craft would get affected by radiation, gamma rays and flying particles and objects or the bubble would keep the events in space it's warping distant?
Comment icon #21 Posted by Black Red Devil 4 years ago
Said my grandmother when her grandmother was told man would fly to the moon one day.....
Comment icon #22 Posted by joc 4 years ago
The difference is flying to the Moon moon was scientifically possible. JFK knew that and he knew that if we didn't do it first the Russians would. Warp drive is not scientifically possible it's purely science fiction.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Black Red Devil 4 years ago
People in the 18th and 19th centuries (and obviously earlier) thought it was impossible for man to fly.  Fullstop.  So I doubt they were talking about going to the moon.  Also, do you have a degree in physics? Because we have an article here that suggests, However, in recent years, the scientific community has become understandably excited and skeptical about claims that a particular concept – the Alcubierre Warp Drive – might actually be feasible. Which basically means it's not totally regarded as impossible by scientists although there are the skeptics.
Comment icon #24 Posted by joc 4 years ago
And I am one!  When we reach 100,000 miles per hour....then talk to me about reaching 186,200 miles per second.  
Comment icon #25 Posted by psyche101 4 years ago
Didn't this same story run Right here a couple of years ago? It's just a rerun isn't it? 
Comment icon #26 Posted by josellama2000 4 years ago
Alcubierre Warp Drive was proved to be impossible. It just move the FTL requirements from the ship to the front.

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