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Warp drive looks more promising than ever in recent NASA studies

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October 3, 2012

The warp drive broke away from being a wholly fictional concept in 1994 (Image: Shuttersto...

The warp drive broke away from being a wholly fictional concept in 1994 (Image: Shutterstock)

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"Interstellar travel may still be in its infancy, but adulthood is fast approaching, and our descendants will someday see childhood's end." The Starflight Handbook

The first steps towards interstellar travel have been taken, but the stars are very far away. Voyager 1 is about 17 light-hours distant from Earth and is traveling with a velocity of 0.006 percent of light speed, meaning it will take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. Fortunately, the elusive "warp drive" now appears to be evolving past difficulties with new theoretical advances and a NASA test rig under development to measure artificially generated warping of space-time.

The warp drive broke away from being a wholly fictional concept in 1994, when physicist Miguel Alcubierre suggested that faster-than-light (FTL) travel was possible if you remained still on a flat piece of spacetime inside a warp bubble that was made to move at superluminal velocity. Rather like a magic carpet. The main idea here is that, although no material objects can travel faster than light, there is no known upper speed to the ability of spacetime itself to expand and contract. The only real hint we have is that the minimum velocity of spacetime expansion during the period of cosmological inflation was about 30 million billion times the speed of light.

An Alcubierre warp drive bubble, showing spatial compression ahead of the bubble, and spat...
An Alcubierre warp drive bubble, showing spatial compression ahead of the bubble, and spatial expansion behind (Image: NASA)

The warp effect uses gravitational effects to compress the spacetime in front of a spacecraft, then expand the spacetime behind it. The bit of spacetime within the warp bubble is flat, so that the spacecraft would float at zero-g along the wave of compressed and expanded spacetime. The net effect is rather like surfing, where you are nearly stationary with respect to the wave, but are traveling with the speed of the wave. Whereas many of the theoretical studies consider a warp bubble moving at ten times the speed of light, there is no known limit to the potential speed.

Such a warp bubble could in principle be used to enable subluminal travel (travel slower than light) as well as superluminal travel (travel faster than light). This may seem a silly choice – why travel slow rather than fast? However, it is likely to turn out far easier to achieve a subluminal warp drive for a number of fundamental reasons. Besides, space travel at 90 percent of the speed of light is far superior to anything we currently have on the books.

This sounds too easy, and in many ways, it is. Thus far, all superluminal warp drives require negative energy and pressure to form and maintain the warp bubble. Matter consistent with such properties does not exist in classical physics. While in quantum mechanics there are certain possibilities for negative energy phenomena, they generally do not seem well suited to generate the required warp bubble.

An additional problem is that a great deal of negative energy is required to initiate a warp bubble. For Alcubierre's original model, it would take more negative energy than the total mass of the Universe to equip a small spacecraft to travel at ten times light speed. Fortunately, refinements to the model have resulted in the energy requirements reducing to the mass equivalent of a few hundred kilograms of matter with negative energy. Mind you, we don't know how to get that quantity either, but it feels a more likely prospect.

Matter with negative energy and negative pressure is usually called exotic matter, and we don't know of any. However, another possibility is to use dark energy to expand spacetime – after all, that is how we know dark energy exists, through observing the accelerated expansion of the Universe. Although nearly three-quarters of the mass-energy of the Universe is dark energy, it is spread thinly, at the equivalent of about ten hydrogen atoms for every liter of space. Given this, harnessing dark energy for warp drives might seem an overwhelming task.

That doesn't mean it's impossible however. To put this into perspective, consider magnetism. The interstellar magnetic field is about a nanoTesla, or about one-fifty thousandth of the Earth's field. If this is all we knew of, harnessing magnetism for any practical purpose would seem unlikely. However, a tiny rare earth magnet exhibits magnetic fields 100 million times stronger than the interstellar field. It isn't wise to recklessly eliminate possibilities.

Schematic illustration of the warp bubble symmetry problem (Image: NASA)
Schematic illustration of the warp bubble symmetry problem (Image: NASA)

All warp bubbles have unknown difficulties concerning turning them on and off. It isn't that models for this process can't be composed – rather the models are too complex to analyze. In addition, to date warp bubbles are symmetrical, so how do they decide which direction to move? A recasting of the relativistic theory of warp bubbles suggests a solution to this dilemma, but the theoretical analysis appears to be faulty. It isn't clear if the faults can be patched without losing the result.

Other problems with superluminal warp bubble drive include the apparent need to generate the front edge of the warp field, which is moving faster than light. In some cases it becomes impossible to control a superluminal warp drive from the spacecraft within the bubble, which would be embarrassing to all concerned as the ship continued to travel forever, or at least until it hit something. Speaking of hitting something, we presently have no idea what happens if a warp bubble hits an external object.

Many models of superluminal warp bubbles also have visible event horizons which are likely to generate high levels of Hawking radiation. Some researchers believe the spacecraft would be incinerated by this radiation, some believe it would not present a problem. The jury is still out, but it seems likely that such problems can be avoided.

NASA's White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer can detect the warping of space in the 1 cm e...
NASA's White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer can detect the warping of space in the 1 cm experimental volume of a part in ten million (Image: NASA)

Before creating a warp bubble, it would be nice to know something about how various sorts of physical inputs can actually warp space. This is the intent of NASA's new White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer (WFI). The WFI is a conventional interferometer, capable of measuring changes in the various path lengths of as little as a nanometer. In this case, however, the path lengths are not changed by moving the mirrors, but by warping spacetime in the small experimental volume. Length changes as small as one part in ten million will be detectable.

A positive signature of space warping in the WFI (Image: NASA)
A positive signature of space warping in the WFI (Image: NASA)

The apparatus will first be tested to see if warping due to the electric field of an extremely high voltage ring electrode can be detected. If so, an optical signal similar to that seen on the left side of the figure above will result. Once the signal is analyzed, a plot of the amount of warping as a function of position within the charged ring will be generated.

The takeaway message is that, while practical warp drive is a long way off, serious efforts to learn more about the possibility are, on a small scale, being undertaken now. In 2022, a version of this article will probably be relatively certain whether an Alcubierre-style warp drive is a reasonable possibility or not.

Source: NASA Eagleworks

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.   All articles by Brian Dodson
50 Comments

Super cool. Can't wait for the results!

James Tarquin Davis
3rd October, 2012 @ 08:31 am PDT

Very nice article! Definitely enjoyed reading it, hope you continue writing for Gizmag.

Racqia Dvorak
3rd October, 2012 @ 02:10 pm PDT

What an excellent article; most thorough and complete I've ever seen on Gizmag.

Todd Dunning
3rd October, 2012 @ 05:30 pm PDT

This is why I love science. You can extrapolate to create a model and then work back again to try to realise what the model predicts. This is how we have managed to advance so quickly this past couple hundred years. Throw mysticism out as far as learning and understanding is concerned. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside reading about spacetime warp bubbles.

Scion
3rd October, 2012 @ 06:49 pm PDT

It is fantastic NASA is taking steady steps towards interstellar travel. I hope they do more research about phased standing waves in order to stretch spacetime more efficiently without the need for negative energy.

rbrtwjohnson
3rd October, 2012 @ 07:02 pm PDT

Before we try to warp space we need to model the structure of space - space time in vaccum. With the discovery of Higgs boson we have made the first tentative move towards detecting the nature of vaccum. Now have to study the properties of Higgs and move on to physics beyond the Higgs boson which is the only way to reveal the nature of the exotic substance that forms the Higgs condensate that pervades all empty space.

Once we understand we can contemplate manipulating it eventually ending with something like a jet engine which propels empty space or vaccum. There you have our warp drive

Able Lawrence
4th October, 2012 @ 03:44 am PDT

MHO is that physicists lose all connection with reality, mainly because quantum fysics presents such a mass of incomprehensible mathematics, from which supernatural phenomena are deduced.But I will be the first to congratulate NASA if the warp-drive works

jochair
4th October, 2012 @ 06:18 am PDT

I can't wait to put one of these babies in my Mustang.

flylowguy
4th October, 2012 @ 09:20 am PDT

Good piece, thanks

the.other.will
4th October, 2012 @ 09:51 am PDT

This was a GREAT article. It really raised the bar for Gizmag. It was complete without being boring and introduced to reader to lots of paths for further exploration.

Well done!!!

Timothy Damien Rohde
4th October, 2012 @ 09:54 am PDT

theoretical physics vs real world applications. funny how many theories fail at that point.

Artisteroi Rlsh Gadgeteer
4th October, 2012 @ 09:55 am PDT

finally, a really good article

this is worth 1000 unreadable/unaffordable puzzle/watches, or antigravity pyramid lamps

wle
4th October, 2012 @ 09:56 am PDT

Sounds a lot like the Soviet submarine torpedo (the Shkval), which used part of its fuel load to create a hi-pressure gas bubble directly in front of the missile (supercavitation). +400kph underwater speeds were previous thought to have been impossible...and these are only the published velocities.

Somewhere, someone will come up with a energy matter collector/storage system and that's what will be required in order to return from any such excursion...unless we've been down this road before and that's how we got to the planet :-)

Mirmillion
4th October, 2012 @ 10:48 am PDT

",,,our descendants will someday see childhood's end."

I hope not. That was one of Arthur C. Clarke's annoying/depressing books.

Gregg Eshelman
4th October, 2012 @ 11:40 am PDT

in the mustang indeed. I am more concerned with intelligent life on earth and that before death not after. pragmatics. nice article but it this not going to solve our ground transport anytime soon. this morning's report for the unfortunate many: 15 miles? 1 hour please! i had a revelat6ion this week, looking down upon a fully parked freeway. it was that this is how much parking it would take...and I was depressed all day, all night andslowly moved on and realized...we got here by seeking speed and convenience, gaining neither. If its 3p.m. and I'm on earth and I was spoze to be on.....that's what i see with pursuing Warped speed...warped priorities!

sorry for the rant and out of place at that

Walt Stawicki
4th October, 2012 @ 12:10 pm PDT

ummm i think prior to a warp engine booting up particles are traveling in reverse then clicks into forward motion in a instant therefor producing traveling in front of the bubble effect. like dropping a stone in the water.

Dave Hargraves
4th October, 2012 @ 12:24 pm PDT

The first ship to have one of these must be named The Roddenberry

Matthew Persico
4th October, 2012 @ 07:34 pm PDT

Clearly if we can discover and harness that force that caused the expansion of the universe, then we'll have our warp drive. I had no idea that in the big bang space expanded at a rate mind-bogglingly faster than the speed of light.

So that clearly demonstrates it is possible in the realm of physics to have FTL travel. We really ought to be devoting a lot more money and research into this area, because it will allow us to travel to other planets within a short amount of time.

Just imagine what amazing things we could discover in other star systems and planets. Best of luck NASA, hope you guys solve this very difficult problem.

John Stone
4th October, 2012 @ 11:57 pm PDT

The trickiest thing about travelling faster than the speed of light is that you won't see any obstacles approaching until after you've hit them. Hey who put that planet there? No need for a front windscreen, but you're gonna need a really good rear-view mirror!!

nutcase
5th October, 2012 @ 04:28 am PDT

Nice piece of work, whether or not we have been visited by aliens has been a ongoing debate for many years, and were still at a loss as to explain what's is or isn't going on. Maybe in the future, we might be the star hopping aliens, using warp drive to explore the universe. Some planet we choose to observe out of curiosity may too come to a blank, as to what is buzzing through their skies.

Thomas Lewis
5th October, 2012 @ 03:43 pm PDT

still don't think having the functional equivalent of a black hole anywhere close by is a good idea.

The proverbial cat in the box question-

experimental observations and the lid-

if the cat exists in the box before the lid is removed then a (that?) cat must exist outside the box. semi- logic iff P>Q>R R>Q Q>P is obeyed, R does not necessarily imply P.

in quantum mechanics-

The light bent by a black hole between the far side of the universe and here and whether or not it affects the speed of light or follows the gravitational and magnetic feilds like a laser does with magnetic ones (constant speed? vs bent space or a sea of holes?). Though a large distance might be full of anomalies , its proabably more detectable.

The basic equation being E=mC**2. (Kinetic,gravitational, or otherwise. aka- planet mecury orbit and einsteins' few (42?)

seconds difference vs newton). I'd think it'd be similar at a photon level (wave/particle reynolds numbers maybe?). The black hole being anti-mass (gravity is still positive? 0=infiti)? warping space or just the feilds associated with its mass warping space?

From there- how close to a black hole can you get without being caught by it- and slingshot close to the speed of light. When the speed of light is not constant what happens to the assumptions behind the equation.

where does a hole open up? or space get folded (bypassed?)- the cat (a cat?)

In terms of the Higgs-Boson particles existence its more tied to solving a unified feild theory -einsteins or not. The existence

of the anti partcle being a cat that is outside the box and needing a cat in the box to determine if the affects/effects are due

to the cat. The experimental assumption is predicated on deterministic math-the assumptions dictate its limits. The cat begs

the question does space really bend( the anti-partcile exist) or is it just the assumptions used to solve the math non-deterministically.

Theory is the cat is in the box- what is the cat- what does the cat do. quantum math? with what cat assumptions/postulates. assume there is a cat. not knowing what a cat is- its twenty questions (like looking for a sea of holes or a bend in space:

so is the speed of light a constant? are particles(pl.) like any other fluid?(waves and reynolds numbers) How big to measure what parameters of cats?

much like any theory-experiment-theory process (existential engineering- learn by doing- whether "its not possible" or not-the mindset gets it closer to reality (what a concept...)

Kwazai
7th October, 2012 @ 07:09 am PDT

This is a really provocative article. Warp drive possible! I mean just the fact that the theoretical physics has been given credibility is staggering for the idea of actually travelling to distant star systems. It is possible, somewhere out there, that another lifeform figured this out and may have been travelling all over the universe for thousands or millions of years. As big as the universe is, they still may have never visited this blue marble, much less visited when there was anything interesting going on.

James Albert Hooper IV
7th October, 2012 @ 10:06 am PDT

a beautifully written article. why not create a bubble with no higgs particles inside it. Meaning that inside and outside of the bubble are space and the walls of the bubble are higgs-less so therefore the ship in the center has mass but the space that it is in does not so therefore no mass = no speed limit.

squidfish
7th October, 2012 @ 08:55 pm PDT

Enjoyed Mr. Dodson's article so much! Though far from scientific, leave it to the average joe ( uninformed ) to ask a dubious question or to wonder aloud stupidly such that science's eyes might somehow re-open to new avenues for further exploration.

A famous comedian once quipped..." A day without sunshine is like...night!"

When one flips a light switch...does the light rush in or does the dark rush out?

Can one have an up without a down (apparently yes... if gravity is present) which then further begs the query... does an Australian lover actually go up on their lover?

Thus ...I (stupidly) wonder aloud...If light follows dark or vice-versa, why not explore the possibility of attachment to the attractive or repulsive moment between the two? For in such an attachment, it matters not which one leads or follows since at the very least the hitchiker would have to be at the minimum travelling at light speed.

I call this "Hitching a Ride on the Crack of Dawn "...

Thumbs up and Cheers to Gizmag and Mr. Dodson!

prpldd8ch
8th October, 2012 @ 02:33 pm PDT

The problem with physics based on multiple theory is that the end result will almost never work. People forget that the Big bang is just a theory, and every aspect of it is just a theory, the idea that all matter came from an exact point in space (smaller than an atom) is a ridiculous theory, that it all happened in an instant is a theory, that the matter moved many times faster than the speed of light is a theory and that it then slowed down but is now speeding up is all conjecture and theory and basing physic laws on any or all of that will result in failure.

. I love the idea of travelling faster than light, but it is also relative to the observer. And Doesn't Hawking radiation have to come from solid matter? Not a pressure wave of "nothing" I would also imply that if light cannot escape a black hole than neither can any type of radiation made up of particals, and that all that radiation is coming from outside the event horizon.

Lastly, you can see ahead of you while travelling faster than light, the movement viewed in front will be sped up like it is on fast forward, the rear view would simply be black.

Ronald Wade Cooper
13th October, 2012 @ 05:37 pm PDT

Fantastic article. This is what being a science writer is all about. Thanks for making this subject understandable and interesting to the non-physicist!

Kaia Simpson David
26th October, 2012 @ 05:22 pm PDT

They'll probably be lucky to move faster than an ion drive. Where's the proof of concept that this even works on Earth? Physics these days are too far removed from reality to apply to it. Hopefully this will prove that much simpler mechanics operate. What is the problem with simply accelerating past the speed of light? Someone said it couldn't be done? Why not try to prove him right or wrong by actually trying?

So much time lost for the lack of scientific guidance to prove Special Relativity right or wrong once and for all?

albalma
21st March, 2013 @ 08:24 pm PDT

Needed; a few tons of un-ergy.

Brian Hall
5th May, 2013 @ 06:28 pm PDT

Aren't there issues with FLT like causality violation? there's likely a cosmic censor for that that renders this a fundamentally flawed concept.

DonGateley
8th May, 2013 @ 10:39 am PDT

I temporarily halted a staff meeting with 15 people, in order to read your article on warp drive, when it appeared on screen. Well crafted and very well executed, Mr. Dodson.

Mike Sorensen
5th June, 2013 @ 05:06 pm PDT

Extremely accurate article. Though I note that you avoid the uncomfortable discussion of so-called 'vacuum engineering' implicit in the various 'warp drive' approaches by Woodward, Davis, Dobyns, and White; much of that coming from Puthoff's fringe ideas.

The uncomfortable truth here is that to see a real effect requires such vast energies that - though theoretically possible - the entire approach is unfeasible. Unless it were possible to manipulate negative energy in the vacuum within a confined area in a specific geometry. It doesn't necessarily mean energy extraction - an obvious energy conservation violation - but it comes pretty close. And that's all hanging on the Casimir Effect. Which, though proven in principle at extremely small energies at nanometer scales, does not necessarily imply what the warp drive researchers are hoping for. And then there's the Newton's third law violation implicit in all of this too. Some tough ideas for the physics community to swallow.

@DonGately: No FTL causality violation. Because an object in the so-called 'bubble' isn't actually moving FTL within its reference frame. Understand that inflation theory assumes space-time in the universe expanded FTL right after the big bang. No problem there. Since matter within the warp bubble wouldn't be accelerated within its reference frame, there's no time dilation effects either. Think of it as warping the light cone propagation within the bubble itself so that there's no FTL information or causality violation upon arrival. Einstein said it takes infinite energy to accelerate matter with rest mass to the speed of light. He never said it's impossible for stationary matter to move FTL along with space itself in contrast to other reference frames.

But that doesn't mean it's technically possible to achieve this effect using the approach these guys propose.

James Maynard Gelinas
14th June, 2013 @ 05:41 pm PDT

Ronald Wade Cooper gets my vote for the best comment.

I love reading of the many theories and applaud them, as long as they don't become fact just because they've either been around so long and/or no better one comes along. This sets one up for the likelihood of missing something vital because it was outside theoretical scope of vision.

I love science that doesn't get married to its theories and is ever willing to throw out "established theories" (probably an oxymoron).

Nevertheless, even faulty theories prove what to me is the critical point. Namely, there are a lot of brilliant minds out there.

Wish I was one of them!

Dr. Veritas
28th June, 2013 @ 11:39 pm PDT

It's space that's moving, the drive just hitches a ride.

They mentioned STOPPING the ship to be a problem, but they obviously don't know much about racing. The way you stop an object going at a great speed in one direction is to propel it with an identical force in the opposite direction until it reaches equilibrium. If they can calculate the force the drive is traveling, then they should be able to derive a counter by having the propulsion reverse is direction. Or even better still, if they ever find out that changing the shape of the bubble gives the bubble a trajectory, then changing the trajectory to 8 directions at once would do 1 of two things. It will either rip the ship apart, or it will stop it. The difference is the amount of energy that's applied.

Now, if they ever discover what gives matter it's mass, they might find a way to suspend mass until the drive is disengaged. If mass can be encoded, and later restored, then traveling without mass would be possible, and so would faster than light travel.

Daniel Gregory
2nd July, 2013 @ 07:28 am PDT

@Dr. Veritas: "Ronald Wade Cooper gets my vote for the best comment."

That's unfortunate, because Mr. Cooper made a number of errors:

"the idea that all matter came from an exact point in space" - that's not what the BBT states. It was not a point IN space. Space was not extraneous to the "exact point".

"that the matter moved many times faster than the speed of light is a theory" - as this very thread has made clear more than once (eg. comment by James Maynard Gelinas), it was spacetime that expanded faster than light (FTL) during the inflation epoch; not matter moving FTL.

"that it then slowed down but is now speeding up is all conjecture and theory" - nope, it's observation. The re-acceleration of the expansion was observed (via supernovae in distant galaxies) before it was ever theorized.

And that's just his first paragraph...

Readout Noise
3rd July, 2013 @ 03:34 am PDT

So the Flux capacitor goes in the Toroid ring.

Now I understand.

David Miller
12th August, 2013 @ 12:10 am PDT

looks like there's going to be a tube for FLT-traveling (like in Freelancer) before we achieve free flying FTL-spacecrafts (StarTrek and rest of scifi)

MG127
23rd August, 2013 @ 02:34 am PDT

At 30 million billion times the initial speed of expansion you should be able to reach the edge of the known universe in about 15 seconds.

My Charger R/T doesn't seem so fast now.

Wingsy
13th October, 2013 @ 05:34 am PDT

The larger point is that FLT travel does not appear to actually be impossible but it is still not at all clear where to put the buttons & controls.

Also, recent analysis suggests there are at least 40 Billion Sols with a probable Man Friendly planet orbiting them within fairly nearby space once a suitable warp drive actually works. One of the first such planets to be colonized should be named Clarke and the next Alcubierre, and so on.

Excellent article!

StWils
29th November, 2013 @ 09:37 am PST

Seems the Focal mission to 550 AU using our Stars home Gravitational Lens provides an Optical "Projector" bringing in all the light from another target elsewhere in the Universe in fine detail.

That is a kind of Distortion of the distances involved.

If matter can be converted to energy and energy back into Matter (Hawking Radiation, Dirac pair production) and you could focus at that high a resolution very far away.. it seems spatial translation for matter along a gravitational lens could provide some sort of Mass "Trajector".

I've heard "Matter" is a kind of frozen light, or bound up version of electromagnetic energy, twist the electromagnetic axes of magnetism and electric field enough using something like gravity and create a new field in another dimension that manifests as the properties of a fundamental particle.. essentially (simple example) "squish it the right way" and parts "stick out" along dimensional axes we recognize as unique properties of a fundamental "particle" -- hence "Louis de Broglie" Wave particle duality observations.

With the Higgs Boson properties being worked out, we are on the verge of "knowing" just how to twist those "dials" such that interconversion from Wave to Particle and Particle to Wave "properties" is as easy as "stiring" the pot in the right way at the right time in the right place. Excellent for deriving Nuclear Fusion power plants.. in which "particle soup" is a fine result and gravitational generators are the desired effect... even I've fumbled with the equations from high school physics and can almost see a result.

Doing so to an entire structure however, or to use an analog from Computer Programming.. "Serializing and Object of Matter" into a quasi form of Optical Matter and back to a form of Matter with Optical properties might be more difficult.. but I'm just not sure.

It seems all we really want to do right now is change the "preferred" overall Mass Vector.. "realign it" at a particular frequency with respect to an electromagnetic field within a Higgs field.. motion without acceleration.. then "realign it" again back to its original orientation

It's very much like lining up all the Photons in a Maser or Laser.. setup the initial conditions at the beginning of a track.. transition and fly to the end of the track and de-transition.. or if your an interstellar probe.. which is merely doing a fly-by.. keep on going at 0.9 C to the next destination

Superconductivity "hints" that something like this is possible, so do Electromagnetic railguns

jwillis84
2nd December, 2013 @ 11:37 pm PST

Soon mankind will be able to go to other worlds and destroy them too.

Nelson Hyde Chick
2nd January, 2014 @ 11:24 am PST

Sorry Nelson Hyde Chick, Warp speed to other worlds outside our Solar System (interstellar) NOT...not in your Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandkids lifetime... its more difficult than people know.

Bill Thornton
5th January, 2014 @ 04:18 pm PST

and the G forces on anyone inside this thing? Seeing flying craft videos of the controversial kind, lets say, anything inside has to be banging against the wall. How is this avoided?

Ed Weibe
10th January, 2014 @ 08:32 am PST

If God had meant for us to travel to the stars, he would have given us dilithium crystals, obviously.

pwndecaf
10th January, 2014 @ 02:05 pm PST

Well, Mr Ed Weibe,

I suppose if we could create a gravity well, and propagate in any direction, then the craft could make an apparent 1,500 Earth G turn, with only a slight feeling of falling, in the direction of travel. However too bad so sad, for Nelson Hyde, we won't have that kind of tech for a long, long, long time well after his Great- great X10 generations Grandchildren have grown old. Not Dilithium crystals pwndecaf, everyone knows Ununpentium with a molecular weight of 299.

Bill Thornton
13th January, 2014 @ 08:24 pm PST

I enjoyed this article for the blogs, some of which were good and some more for entertainment as when Jay Leno does his Man on the Street skits. Additionally, I enjoyed the article because of the Author, Brian Dodson. We have a real Doctorate of Physics holder, not some Communications Major who doesn't know mps from mph. Dr. Dodson gives a cautiously optimistic review while touching on some stumbling blocks that will take time to solve, if at all.

1. Over the last several years, the Press/Media has been VERY favorable towards NASA's Dr.Harold White his minor research towards a Star Trek like Warp Drive. Some people think warp drive is "just around the corner" I am sorry that it is NOT. The good thing is the REAL reason NASA is funding (at tiny levels). Dr. Whites rudimentary so called "warp experiments" is for NASA PR...Marketing...to get people interested and fired up about the "possibilities".... which is a good thing ! I applaud NASA for "finally" doing a good job in PR and marketing.

2. Layman or the average person out there has no idea how complex and daunting a real warp drive is. To the dismay of many Star Trek Fans (even me) it will NOT be created by Zeff Cochran in 2063 in a two bit peace-time operation at a Montana missile silo. We will be lucky to have a prototype working positive gain Fusion Generator generating electricity by 2063, which is still far, far, far behind warp drive technologies. Warp Drive unlike computer and telecommunications tech is NOT subject to Moore's Law. In scale to the time periods, Warp drive for us in 2013, is more daunting than Ben Franklin going for the moon because while we have Alcubierre's and Nataro's warp equations, most of the calculative math to make the whole thing work, we DO NOT HAVE...there are many more complete unknowns for us than for Ben Franklin circa 1790 in reaching the moon.

3. Too Bad, so Sad, MOORE's Law does NOT apply... Jonathan Miller (a NASA Employee hit this on the nail). Moore's law is the quadrupling of computer power/memory every 20 months or so... MOORE's Law applies to computers, telecommunications... smart phones, the internet... NOT...NOT Warp drive... (UNFORTUANATELY),

Transportation, power generation, and materials technology all needed for Warp drive and advance Much, Much, Much slower than via Moore's law.

4. Optimistically, even dealing with Dr. White's " much reduced" energy requirements of 500 kg to 1000 kg antimatter equivalent would be required EVERY SECOND for a car-SUV sized ship at a measly warp 2.155 (about 10 x light speed). For comparison, for each 500 kg of antimatter reacted PER SECOND (in only one second, needed for every second of operation) exceeds the current Worlds' energy production in a YEAR.......we don't have force fields to handle that, or materials (hoses, tubes, etc) to control the huge energies...or deal with the Hawking radiation which would exceed the radiation from a 10 megaton H-bomb exploding 10 feet in front of your face... Plus how do we grab a gravity wave and reach the PLANK Energy Density needed to propagate it to compress space and extend it ? Nuclear Fusion cannot come close and even ANTIMATTER at 100 times the energy densities of fusion falls far short of reaching the needed energy densities to warp space for FTL..warp speed. You would need to harness and control something like a Black Hole.

5. Hope I have not depressed you, as I am an optimist... I think we will achieve warp drive... in about 550 to 900 years. In the grand scheme of things, that really is not a long time. Gene Rodenberry was a bit optimistic on time lines. Too bad Moore's Law does not apply.

William N Thornton
18th January, 2014 @ 08:26 pm PST

Forget "warp drives" and consider "foam compression" ,If you can compress space ,you should be able to cut down travelling distance. Imagine theoretically that there are two lighthouses beaming on each other,but instead of being built on top of a mountain top they are actually sited at the edge of a foam mattress. Press your palms against the mattress and compress it hard until the two light houses meet. There you go!

Joseph Silveira Asamoah
20th April, 2014 @ 03:58 am PDT

Well, the physicist set forth the theory for warp drive in '94, but then Ben Rich, the head of Skunk Works for Lockheed where they built the stealth fighters, said to the graduating class of UCLA in '93, "We already have the means of going to the stars...." Duh? And whatever happened to Americans power of observation. Like the plasma thing is being developed now? Then, pray, tell how in the dickens such things were being seen more than 30 years ago? And explain how there was a recharge station not far from where I lived in the 70s and early 80s with flying saucers seen hovering over it? And shall we discuss the work of Tesla, Brown, Carr, and others? Back in the late 40s or the early 50s, three flying saucers flew over a cotton field in Arkansas about a 1000 feet up, one above the other, and the most remarkable thing about those who saw them is that the one trained military observer from WWII who had been in Intelligence did not say a single word about the event.

dr. james willingham
12th June, 2014 @ 02:37 pm PDT

The contribution's of Leik Myrabo & Jon R.R. Searl are very relevant to making the Alcubrie-VandeBrock postulation of the Cassimere effect and Lorentz Contraction for space-warp an actual occurance, all together as combined components.

Moreshaun D Zhang
10th September, 2014 @ 04:05 pm PDT

You can recognize one of Dr. Brian Dodson’s articles less than two paragraphs in. Amazing work. Great writing. It even enhances the level of the comments.

Brian is a great reason for reading Gizmag.

Intellcity
1st October, 2014 @ 10:08 pm PDT

I would guess the best bet for Superluminal travel would be a "Space Jump". Just as particles have "attributes" for charge, spin, etc. there also might be attributes for X, Y, and Z special positions too--Especially considering the "Holographic Universe" ideas that are now being seriously explored in modern Physics.---Where location in space is only an "illusion" based on how we interpret and perceive these particle attributes.

Using directed, short high energy pulses as from a discharge from a large capacitor system, these Space/Location attributes might be changed to that of another location many light years away.---And thus the particles (and a ship made of them) could instantly "Jump" to that new location.

The length of the jump would be at FIRST, perhaps, limited by the available energy of the pulse.--Thus we might have to be happy with a series few short jumps to reach a goal, say 100 LY away.

This is a system I use in my own Sci Fi Story.

Thomas Ray
21st October, 2014 @ 05:56 am PDT
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