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Space & Astronomy

Real-life warp drive concept is gaining traction

By T.K. Randall
March 2, 2020 · Comment icon 23 comments

Could warp drive be the answer to interstellar space travel ? Image Credit: NASA
The idea that a spacecraft could 'warp' over vast distances of space may have genuine potential.
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.

In recent years however, scientists have been taking a long, hard look at an exotic science-fiction propulsion system that, as it turns out, is not solely limited to the Star Trek franchise.

One major advocate is undergraduate engineer Joseph Agnew who has been focusing his efforts on a theoretical implementation known as Alcubierre Warp Drive.

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.

"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," Agnew told University Today.

"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."

"Now that we know the effect is real, the next question, in my mind, is, 'how do we study it, and can we generate it ourselves in the lab ?'"

As things stand, the biggest hurdle to overcome is generating enough energy to make it work.

Eventually though, as technology improves, it is not outside the realms of possibility that in the future, the Alcubierre Warp Drive could actually become a very effective way for us to travel to the stars.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (23)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by SpaceBumZaphod 3 years ago
Very good series. 
Comment icon #15 Posted by tmcom 3 years ago
I thought that you would use a nuclear generator and a series of capacitors, to create a million volt canopy around a metallic spacecraft, which distorts space/time so much it defys gravity, and creates a time bubble, then distort that field to create the warp affect, or go from here to Mars in a few minutes, give or take.
Comment icon #16 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
Or alternatively, you'd just create a huge spark, and a puddle of metal  
Comment icon #17 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 3 years ago
And you would electrocute the crew and fry the electronics. In addition there is reason to think that a million volt would do anything to gravity and time. Otherwise its a great idea @tmcom. 
Comment icon #18 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
actually, if it WAS a spherical metal spaceship, then the Faraday effect would have protected the crew and the electronics.   Well, from electrocution, anyway. Not from being reduced to a puddle of metal. 
Comment icon #19 Posted by tmcom 3 years ago
If l remember correctly the electrical field would produce several nasty forms of radiation, so the crew cabin would need to be heavily shielded, and propulsion would be as easy as changing the field strength from one edge to another, creating a warp pattern. Two 100 million volt lazers directed at each other could tear space time and create a window to higher dimensions, (this is something physicists want to try out) so this isn't out of our reach.
Comment icon #20 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
How do you know it would lead to a HIGHER dimension ? It could lead down to the basement ? 
Comment icon #21 Posted by toast 3 years ago
Comment icon #22 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 3 years ago
All you need is a good supply of element 115, a bit of woo, a total disregard of science and off you go. 
Comment icon #23 Posted by tmcom 3 years ago
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/physicists-are-planning-build-lasers-so-powerful-they-could-rip-apart-empty-space https://science.slashdot.org/story/11/11/03/239204/eu-scientists-working-on-laser-to-rip-a-hole-in-spacetime I like the first one, create a pulse more powerful than all power plants worldwide combined, but the sapphire is a bargain 100 million. Get it cheaper at Walmart!

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