Warp Speed 10: NASA Physicist Says Warp Drive is Feasible
September 18, 2012 1:10 PM
comment(s) - last by
Adjustments have radically reduced the theoretical amount of energy necessary to warp space-time
"There is hope."
Those were the words of Harold "Sonny" White at the
100 Year Starship Symposium
, an event where science fiction fans and theoretical physicists alike met to trade suggestions and ideas about
future starship designs
. Mr. White was talking about his novel warp drive that bears eerie similarities to the fictional drive of Star Trek fame.
I. From Fiction to Feasible
The idea for the real-life version was first hatched by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994. Alcubierre's spaceship was a two-part design consisting of a football-shaped spacecraft and an outer ring of exotic matter, responsible for warping space.
Inside the ring was a bubble of normal, safe space-time encapsulating the ship, but outside it the ring contracted space-time ahead of the ship while elongating it behind the ship. The resulting distortion of the fabric of our universe would allow the spaceship to travel at a mind-blowing
10 times the speed of light
without violating the fundamental laws of space and time.
The warp spaceship is a two-part design. [Image Source: Harold White]
So what’s the problem? The amount of energy needed to warp the space was calculated to be equivalent to the mass of the planet Jupiter, the most massive planet in our solar system. Thus for almost a decade the idea was written off as an interesting theoretical observation, but more fit for fiction than fact.
Then along came Mr. White with an interesting idea -- what if you turned the relatively flat ring into a donut. The results were astonishing -- used the new rounded ring design, the mass-energy needed was reduced by orders of magnitude to around that of the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977 -- a small spacecraft.
And by oscillating the intensity of the warps over time, the energy could be even further reduced.
Comments Mr. White in a
, "The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation. The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab. If we're ever going to become a true spacefaring civilization, we're going to have to think outside the box a little bit, were going to have to be a little bit audacious."
II. Moving Towards the Stars
Following the new revelations, Mr. White's next order of business is to set up a tabletop experiment at the Johnson Space Center using a measurement instrument they invented, dubbed the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer. The laser instrument is designed to detect small warps in space.
Mr. White says of this "humble" experiment, "We're trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million."
The warp drive could allow man to reach distant exoplanets. [Image Source: NASA/UCSD]
Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit group of scientists and engineers devoted to pursuing interstellar spaceflight, is thrilled by the progress, commenting, "Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light. But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light."
At this point the warp engine is still in its very nascent stages of development.
And yet one cannot help but imagine the words of fictional Star Trek character Zefram Cochrane, Mr. White's fictional analogue:
On this site, a powerful engine will be built - an engine that will someday help us to travel a hundred times faster than we can today. Imagine it: thousands of inhabited planets at our fingertips. And we'll be able to explore those strange new worlds, and seek out new life, and new civilizations. This engine will let us go boldly, where no man has gone before.
And at that the mind wonders upon the idea of this device floating through the cold stretches of space -- a doubly round manmade instrument in a universe dominated by curvature, creating oscillations of space which are in turn oscillated in intensity with a sinusoidal, rhythmic beat that could one day carry mankind across the stars.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Seems like fantasy
9/20/2012 10:46:12 AM
I hate to say this, but you sound almost logical. Isn't there some place other than DT for logical people to act logical and...you know...make sense? ;)
FTL is a bit like God, until someone disproves it, we'll all continue tracing it. Unlike religion, that would actually be good science so I disagree with referring to it as a fantasy just yet - this one is definitely subject to science.
"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
CERN Physicists Observe First Faster-Than-Light Long-Distance Travel
September 26, 2011, 10:10 AM
Russia is Developing Nuclear Fission Spaceship to Reach the Red Planet
October 29, 2009, 9:30 AM
NASA Introduces Asteroid Grand Challenge to Protect Earth
June 18, 2013, 8:48 PM
NSA Leaker May be Killed in Drone Strike Says Ron Paul
June 17, 2013, 11:18 AM
Airbus A350 XWB "MSN1" Has Successful First Flight
June 17, 2013, 11:02 AM
Study: Gamers Have Better Visual, Decision-Making Skills Than Non-Gamers
June 12, 2013, 11:26 AM
Airbus A350 XWB to Take First Flight Friday, Looks to Challenge Boeing Dreamliner
June 11, 2013, 8:20 PM
Berkeley Lab Tests Artificial Photosynthesis with New Microfluidic Test-Bed
June 11, 2013, 11:41 AM
Most Popular Articles
Source: Don't Worry, NSA Spies on "99 Percent" of Americans' Locations, Call Records
June 14, 2013, 3:57 PM
Xbox Chief: If You Can't Get Online, Don't Buy an Xbox One
June 12, 2013, 9:57 AM
GigaHertz Wars 2.0? AMD Releases World's First 5.0 GHz FX Processor
June 11, 2013, 3:16 PM
Former Palm CEO: Selling Palm to HP was a Waste
June 12, 2013, 10:19 AM
Report: Apple to Release Larger iPhone Screens, Cheaper iPhone for $99
June 13, 2013, 9:41 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Lumosity: Does it Work?
May 22, 2013, 8:20 PM
Quick Note: Sony "Teases" PS4 Ahead of Xbox Reveal in New Video
May 20, 2013, 12:33 PM
Nokia Introduces Instagram-Like App of Its Own to Help Lumia Sales
May 20, 2013, 7:10 AM
Parents of Pre-Teen Drivers Commonly Practice Distracted Driving Says Study
May 9, 2013, 7:16 AM
Apple's iOS 7 Running Into Internal Delays Due to Massive Overhaul
May 1, 2013, 4:26 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information