Virtually all science fiction that involves intergalactic travel or convenient travel between planets in our own solar system revolves around faster than light travel. One problem with many theories for faster than light travel is the proposed methods would violate Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
Two physicists from Baylor University have theorized what they believe to be a method of faster than light travel that would not break the Theory of Relativity. Einstein's Theory of Relativity states that objects accelerating to the speed of light require an infinite amount of energy.
The physicists -- Gerald Cleaver and Richard Obousy -- have theorized a new idea for faster than light travel that involves manipulating dark energy to propel a spacecraft. According to Space.com the universe -- in theory -- moved faster than light for a short time after the Big Bang, propelled by dark energy which represents about 74% of the mass energy budget in the universe. Space.com goes on to say that, 22% of the mass energy budget consists of dark matter and what remains of the mass-energy budget in the universe being made up of stars, planets and other things we see.
Some current evidence supports the theory that the fabric of space-time can expand faster than the speed of light. This is said to be because the reality which light travels is expanding itself.
The Baylor physicists took a recent idea in string theory to devise a method of manipulating dark energy to accelerate a spaceship based on the Alcubierre drive. The Alcubierre drive works on the principle -- in theory -- that expanding space-time behind a ship and reducing space-time in front of the ship would result in propulsion at faster than light speeds.
Cleaver said, "Think of it [faster than light travel] like a surfer riding a wave. The ship would be pushed by the spatial bubble and the bubble would be traveling faster than the speed of light."
It is believed that 10 dimensions exist, with six of them being largely unknown. M-theory suggests that hypothetical one-dimensional strings vibrate in yet another dimension. Cleaver and Obousy theorize that manipulating the dimension the strings vibrate in would alter dark energy in height, width, and length to permit a spaceship to take advantage of dark energy's effect on the universe.
Cleaver told Space.com, "The dark energy is simultaneously decreased just in front of the ship to decrease (and bring to a stop) the expansion rate of the universe in front of the ship. If the dark energy can be made negative directly in front of the ship, then space in front of the ship would locally contract."
While the whole theory hardly sounds simple, one of the greatest problems is the amount of energy required to propel a ship using this method. The physicists estimate that to move a small ship -- measuring approximately 33-feet x 33-feet -- would require energy equivalent to the entire mass of Jupiter.
Cleaver continued saying, "That is an enormous amount of energy. We are still a very long ways off before we could create something to harness that type of energy."