NASA Admits Alcubierre Drive Initiative: Faster Than The Speed Of Light

Before we jump into this, you should know that a number of scientists are currently researching the feasibility of warp drive (and EMdrive and a number of other modes of faster than light travel); however, most think that such forms of space travel simply aren’t viable, thanks to the fundamental physics of our universe.

Warp Drive Diagram

So although part of this article is simply, “Oh my gosh, look at this amazing design,” that’s not the entire point. To that end, let’s take a moment to break this all down a bit so we have an understanding of what exactly is being proposed in relation to warp drive, and why it is met with such skepticism, before we get a bit too carried away…

In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a new kind of technology that would allow us to travel 10 times faster than the speed of light without actually breaking the speed of light. That seems a little contradictory, doesn’t it? After all, we’ve been told time and again that light is the universal speed limit – nothing in the cosmos can travel faster than it (much less 10 times faster) and herein lies the key to the Alcubierre drive: When you use it, you aren’t actually moving through space.


This technology would not actually propel the ship to speeds exceeding light; instead, it uses the deformation of spacetime permitted by General Relativity to warp the universe  around the vessel. Essentially, when the drive is activated the spacetime behind expands, while in the front it contracts. In this respect, the path taken becomes a time-like free-fall.

Alcubierre’s ideas have lead to a number of interesting thought experiments in quantum field theory; however, as mentioned above, most scientists think that the technology will never actually work. When you think about it, that kind of makes sense. Obviously, warping space requires a lot of mass and energy, and ensuring that the space where you are located isn’t warped is tricky business. Indeed, the proposition was mostly just a thought experiment when it was first proposed – not something Alcubierre thought was actually viable technology.

Image result for Alcubierre Drive

As physicist Sean Carroll notes:
In short, it requires negative energy densities, which can’t be strictly disproven but are probably unrealistic; the total amount of energy is likely to be equivalent to the mass-energy of an astrophysical body; and the gravitational fields produced would likely rip any ship to shreds. My personal estimate of the likelihood we will ever be able to build a “warp drive” is much less than 1%. And the chances it will happen in the next hundred years I would put at less than 0.01%.
[Reference: Jalopnik]

That said, scientists will likely be producing papers addressing these ideas for some time. We’ll continue to cover them as they come out (and though things may look painfully dismal for this technology, who knows what the future may hold).

But on to the design…

Image result for Alcubierre Drive

In 2010, NASA physicist Harold White revealed that he and a team were working on a design for this faster-than-light ship, and this is the most recent design of what such a ship might actually look like. As you can see in the image, the ship rests between two enormous rings, which create the warp bubble.

Artist Mark Rademaker worked on the project with White. In the release, Rademaker asserts that he spent over 1,600 hours working on the design. The ship is called the IXS Enterprise, and it is meant to fit the concept for a Faster Than Light ship. Mike Okuda also brought input, and designed the Ship’s insignia.

To give you some idea of just how awesome warp technology would be: A trip to the nearest star (Proxima Centauri), which rests some four light-years from Earth, would ordinarily take over 17,000 years. However, with the Alcubierre drive, it would take a little under five months. For those of us who have a mental breakdown on 10 hour plane flights, 5 months might still seem like quite a bit of travel time. But when we are talking about the vast cosmic distances between Earth and Proxima Centauri, a 5 month trip would be an achievement of monumental proportions (keep in mind, it took Curiosity 8 months just to reach Mars).

See more images of the design here.

Comments

  1. I am glad somebody is starting to look at this even if the kinds of
    exotic energy needed is still just a dream.

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  2. If they are still on NASA's payroll, I think Mr. White and his team should be reassigned to helping boots return to the Moon and then on to Mars.... Extinction events striking us could precede any need for FTL adventures.....

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  3. Isn't this the technology that propelled the spaceships on Star Trek ?

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    1. Yes. On Star Trek, they used a matter/anti-matter reaction to generate the proper amount of energy to create the warp bubble. We currently don't have the ability to make enough anti-matter to create a minuscule fraction of that energy but maybe we can come up with something else. Naquadriah, anyone?

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    2. Also kind of same way Futurama's Planet Express ship travels, Nibbler provides the anti-matter.

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  4. The image state explicitly that the speed is "subluminal": as the LIGO and VIRGO experiments have demonstrated with the detection of gravitation waves, deformation of space-time structure can only proceed at the speed of light.

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    1. The ship is moving at subluminal speeds inside the bubble, the bubble itself is moving roughly 20 times the speed of light. Or at least that's the last prediction I'd heard about how fast it would travel.

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  5. All we have to do is base it on carbon nanotubes. They can do anything.

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  6. Sounds lie the expansion drive in "Bill the Galactic Hero" by Harry Harrison. Funny book.

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  7. the laws in the space/time continuum are not much different than how a coil in an automobile is interrupted to jump the field energy from one winding to another, increasing a 12v source up in amps to make a powerful spark. Intermittently turning off & on a gravity generator wave frequency, in the field of atomic gravity, will make access to other dimensions of space/time, opening a door beyond the laws of this known universe to the laws of other universes . So it will not be breaking any laws, only entering a place with different laws.Or, at least accessing momentarily the laws of other dimensions .

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    1. Othere dimensions wood utilize the same laws just diferant variables

      I.E. E=MC(SQUARED)
      here lets say E=1
      In another dimension E may be 2 changing the othere variables along with it

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Hace 100 años nadie se atrevía a pensar que hoy habría aviones que transladan 600 pasajeros a 15000 Kilómetros a 900 kilómetros por hora !!!

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  10. I have proposed a way of doing this which is somewhat different to this method, which I believe orients the Electric and Magnetic field in the same direction (correct me if I am wrong). The method I proposed is based on a theory I developed, as it appears that Positrons, in free space simply evaporate. This disappearance of charge, is mysterious, as a "hole" is produced, which still has Positive Charge, as information, but in the rare event that an Electron and a Hole Scatter, they produce one Gamma Ray photon, not two. So I proposed that the extra energy has gone into producing a Quanta of Space-Time. So when the Positron moves backward in time, it sends a Ghost forward with less energy and similar properties, and the extra energy expands Space-Time. Obviously one could construct a particle accelerator that Generate an Electron Positron Pair, and sends one each of them in opposite directions. The Electron out of the front of the vessel and the Positron out the rear. The timing has to be such that the Positron Evaporates into a hole, then the Electron would travel around the vessel and instead of scattering off a Positron, it simply occupies a previously non existing piece of Space-Time. So Expansion in back of the craft and contraction in the front should do the very same thing. The big difference with my theory, is that it could be tested, experimentally --- today! We need to see how long we can keep Electrons and Positrons away from each other, to see if in fact Positrons do evaporate into Holes. I have no idea why this is not an active project.

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  11. Anyway, I am convinced my theory is now the best Field Theory ever devised as it clearly explains why there is very little antimatter, what Holes are, and why Electrons behave as a gas. Electrons behave as a gas because the empty space while not actually charged, has charge information in it, as it was previously charged, so "Entropy" allows the Electrons to expand in that empty space --- So "Entropy" is a field theory, part of Electromagnetism, at least in my theory "Kriske's Field Theory". Anyway, I wish I could get the funding to work on this idea.

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