A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel — a concept popularized in television’s Star Trek — may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say.
A warp drive would 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. 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.
Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.
“There is hope,” Harold “Sonny” White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center said here Friday (Sept. 14) at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the challenges of interstellar spaceflight.
An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind.
Meanwhile, the starship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn’t being warped at all.
“Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light,” explained Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit group of scientists and engineers devoted to pursuing interstellar spaceflight. “But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light.”
With this concept, the spacecraft would be able to achieve an effective speed of about 10 times the speed of light, all without breaking the cosmic speed limit.
The only problem is, previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter.
But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.
Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found.
“The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation,” White told SPACE.com. “The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab.”
- emptycosmos reblogged this from ikenbot
- mysterydude1203 likes this
- auberginederp likes this
- jacobpoepoe likes this
- chcunnin reblogged this from ikenbot
- chcunnin likes this
- milkandrainbows likes this
- cardinal-ephemeris likes this
- miltongrant likes this
- farmboy264 likes this
- mr-bananafish likes this
- r3ttfink reblogged this from ikenbot
- od-ovoxo likes this
- deadmolecules likes this
- arayian reblogged this from ikenbot
- blaancagtz likes this
- 99balloonsbutabitchaintone likes this
- theacae likes this
- lohengrin70 likes this
- i-said-off-the-wrist likes this
- sailorvodka likes this
- godblesskanyewest reblogged this from hologram-grrl
- hologram-grrl reblogged this from fahrae
- sleepymarmot reblogged this from sherlockismyholmesboy
- divineyoukai likes this
- thisissoapickle likes this
- 1of4musketeers reblogged this from civilizationfiction
- brokenthrough likes this
- fatostriches reblogged this from gallifreyburning
- vacacore reblogged this from sciencemicroblog
- lessthan3glue reblogged this from ikenbot
- ericmano likes this
- falonzi82 likes this
- fromtheotherhorizon reblogged this from anengineersaspect
- anengineersaspect reblogged this from scinerds
- primalreaction reblogged this from astrodidact
- thinkragelove likes this
- domesticatedxenomorph reblogged this from bionikbastard
- domesticatedxenomorph likes this
- averagegirlstrangetaste reblogged this from bionikbastard
- bionikbastard reblogged this from con-volution
- bionikbastard likes this
- con-volution reblogged this from ikenbot
- goddessofnature likes this
- abyssalpelagic reblogged this from lavitaacolori
- everythingiveseentwice likes this
- dakkar-h likes this
- lavitaacolori reblogged this from gingerbebe
- thebastardsstolemywaffle likes this
- lackingincreativity likes this